China launches military exercises as a “severe punishment” against Taiwan

China launches military exercises as a “severe punishment” against Taiwan

China surrounded Taiwan on Thursday with military ships and aircraft, as part of maneuvers that Beijing presented as “punishment” against its new president, Lai Ching-ti, and the “independence” forces on the island.

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The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense “strongly” condemned these exercises and announced that it had “deployed naval, air and land forces (…) to defend freedom, democracy and sovereignty” in the territory.

The Taiwanese presidential spokesman denounced Beijing's “provocative military behavior.”

These exercises come three days after Lai Ching Tee's inauguration speech. China considered these statements as a “recognition of Taiwan's independence” and threatened the Taiwanese authorities with “retaliation.”

China considers Taiwan one of its provinces that has not yet been able to reunite with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and the communists came to power.

Li Shi, spokesman for the Chinese military's Eastern Theater, said in a statement that the maneuvers began at 7:45 a.m. Thursday (11:45 p.m. GMT Wednesday) and are expected to continue until Friday.

It takes place “in the Taiwan Strait, to the north, south and east of the island of Taiwan, as well as in the areas surrounding the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wokyo and Donjin.”

These last islands are located in the immediate vicinity of the Chinese eastern coast.

The Chinese Coast Guard immediately announced that it had launched a “law and order exercise” near the Taiwanese islands of Wukio and Donjin. Their Taiwanese counterparts have also deployed their fleet to sea.

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“siege”

Li Xi said that these maneuvers constitute “severe punishment for the separatist actions of the 'Taiwan independence' forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces.”

Mainland China, led by the Communist Party, says it favors “peaceful” reunification with the island's democratically ruled territory, which has a population of 23 million. But it never abandoned the use of military force.

These new exercises, called Joint Sword-2024A, include units from the Army, Navy, Air Force and a missile unit.

The spokesman said that the goal is to “test the real joint combat capabilities of the command forces.”

Zhang Qi, a professor at the National Defense University in Beijing, said on Chinese state television that the maneuvers were aimed at “imposing an economic blockade on the island” by “choking” Taiwan's strategic port of Kaohsiung.

He added that such a blockade makes it possible to cut off “vital energy imports to Taiwan” and “impede the support that some US allies provide to 'Taiwan independence' forces.”

Speaking in Canberra, US General Stephen Sklinka described the situation as “worrying”.

CCTV released a map showing the nine areas where the training is taking place. The closest island to Taiwan appears to be less than 50 kilometers from the coast.

During his swearing-in on Monday, Lai Qing-ti, whom Beijing has described in the past as a “dangerous separatist,” called on China to “stop political and military intimidation.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded on Tuesday that Taiwanese separatists would “make a mockery of shame to history.”

“Wrong Way”

China also responded this week by imposing sanctions on several US companies to denounce US arms sales to Taiwan.

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Since the arrival to power on the island of Tsai Ing-wen (2016-2024), whose party, like that of Lai Ching-tei, considers this region to be truly independent, the Taiwanese authorities have strengthened their relations with the United States.

On Thursday, the Chinese military said in a message that showed poignant and dangerous pictures of fighter planes, ships and missiles, “Relying on foreign countries is taking the wrong path.”

She said: “The nation must be reunited, and it will inevitably be reunited.”

China's previous large-scale military drills around Taiwan were held in August 2023, a “severe warning” according to Beijing after Mr. Lai, then Vice President, visited the United States.

Beijing also launched exercises of a historic scope in August 2022 after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to the island.

“The current exercise is called Joint Sword-2024A, which likely means there will be several exercises this year,” analyst Bill Bishop said in his Sinocism newsletter. The letter “A” indicates that it is the first in a series.

The conflict in the Taiwan Strait, even if most experts rule out this hypothesis in the short term, would have a devastating impact on the economy: more than 50% of the world's transported containers pass through this strait and the island produces 70% of its needs. Semiconductors on this planet.

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About the Author: Hermínio Guimarães

"Introvertido premiado. Viciado em mídia social sutilmente charmoso. Praticante de zumbis. Aficionado por música irritantemente humilde."

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