China launches retaliatory military maneuvers “around” Taiwan

China launches retaliatory military maneuvers “around” Taiwan
China launches retaliatory military maneuvers “around” Taiwan

China launched military maneuvers around Taiwan on Thursday, a “severe punishment” according to it, three days after the inauguration speech of the new Taiwanese president Lai Ching-te, which it considers a “confession of independence”.

This is a “severe punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” according to East Theater Command spokesperson Li Xi. Chinese army, cited by the official Chine Nouvelle agency.

“The exercises are taking place in the Taiwan Strait, north, south and east of the island of Taiwan, as well as in areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin,” China said. News, specifying that the exercises, planned for two days, had started Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m. (local time).

These maneuvers, called “Joint Sword-2024A,” involve the army, navy, air force and rocket unit, according to Li Xi.

The objective is to “test the real joint combat capabilities of the command forces”, he also indicated according to New China, through “sea-air combat preparation patrols, the takeover of the ‘entire battlefield and precision strikes on key targets’.

Taiwan has described Chinese military maneuvers around its territory as “provocations and irrational actions”.

“The Ministry of National Defense strongly condemned these provocations and irrational actions which harm regional peace and stability. We deployed sea, air and land forces in response […] to defend the freedom, democracy and sovereignty” of Taiwan, the ministry said.

China this week described the inauguration speech of new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te as an “admission of Taiwan’s independence” and threatened him with “retaliation”.

Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when nationalists took refuge on the island after their defeat by communist forces in the Chinese civil war on the mainland.

Beijing considers the democratically governed island to be part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to bring it under its control.

Risk of war

Mr. Lai, whom Beijing has called a “dangerous separatist” in the past, was sworn in on Monday on the island. He promised to defend democracy there in the face of Chinese threats and called on China to “stop its political and military intimidation”.

He also spoke directly about the risk of war after years of increasing pressure from China to bring Taiwan under its control.

Taiwanese separatists “will be pilloried with shame for history,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi commented on Tuesday.

“Lai Ching-te’s betrayal of his nation and his ancestors is shameful,” the minister added during a meeting of foreign ministers from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization countries.

This week, China also responded by sanctioning around fifteen American companies to denounce the sale of arms by the United States to Taiwan.

Because if Washington abandoned diplomatic recognition of Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979, the American Congress simultaneously imposed the provision of arms to Taiwan, with the stated aim of dissuading China from any expansionist desire.

The previous large-scale Chinese military exercises around Taiwan took place in August 2023, a “severe warning” according to Beijing after a visit by Mr. Lai, then vice-president, to the United States.

Before that, Beijing had also launched maneuvers of historic scale in August 2022 after the visit to the island of Nancy Pelosi, then head of American deputies.

A conflict in the Taiwan Strait, even if experts do not consider it imminent, would have a devastating effect on the world economy: more than 50% of the containers transported in the world pass through this strait and the island produces 70% of the semiconductors of the planet.

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