Taiwan. China launches military maneuvers, a “punishment” against the new president

Taiwan. China launches military maneuvers, a “punishment” against the new president
Taiwan. China launches military maneuvers, a “punishment” against the new president

China launched large-scale military maneuvers around Taiwan on Thursday May 23, 2024, which it presents as a “severe punishment” towards the new Taiwanese president Lai Ching-te, immediately qualified by Taipei as “provocations and irrational actions”.

The Taiwanese Coast Guard announced that it had deployed its fleet at sea to defend “firmly” the sovereignty of the island.

“The coast guard […] collaborate with the Ministry of National Defense to monitor movements in the surrounding maritime area”the coast guard said in a statement, without giving a precise location. “The coast guard will firmly defend the sovereignty and security of the country”they add.

The operation decided by Beijing constitutes a “severe punishment for separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces”said Li Xi, spokesperson for the Chinese army’s Eastern Theater Command.

“The exercises are taking place in the Taiwan Strait, in the north, south and east of the island of Taiwan, as well as in areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin”he underlined in a press release issued by the army.

The exercises began Thursday at 7:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. GMT Wednesday) and are expected to last until Friday inclusive, according to the same Source.

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 joint real combat capabilities of the command forces”also indicated the spokesperson, through “sea-to-air combat readiness patrols, taking control of the entire battlefield and precision strikes on key targets”.

Beijing described this week the inauguration speech of the new Taiwanese president Lai Ching-te as“confession of Taiwan’s independence” and threatened him with “retaliation”.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has “strongly condemned” Thursday these Chinese maneuvers, which he described as “provocations and irrational actions”.

“We deployed sea, air and land forces in response […] to defend freedom, democracy and sovereignty” of the island, he stressed.

“Piloried”

China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces, which it has not yet managed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

The Chinese nationalist army then took refuge on the island after its defeat by communist forces on the mainland.

China says it favors reunification “peaceful” with the island territory populated by 23 million inhabitants and governed by a democratic system. But it has never renounced the use of military force.

During his swearing-in, Lai Ching-te, previously described as “dangerous separatist” by Beijing, has promised to defend democracy in the face of what he presents as Chinese threats. He also called on Beijing to “stop its political and military intimidation”.

He also directly mentioned the risk of war after years of diplomatic and military pressure from China on Taiwan.

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

“Lai Ching-te’s betrayal of his nation and ancestors is shameful”added the minister, who criticizes Lai Ching-te in particular for wanting to deepen the cultural separation between the island and the continent.

This week, China also responded by sanctioning several American companies to denounce the United States’ arms sale to Taiwan.

Other exercises?

Because if Washington abandoned diplomatic recognition of Taipei for the benefit of Beijing in 1979, the American Congress simultaneously required the supply of arms to Taiwan, with the stated aim of dissuading China from wanting to take control of the island.

“The current exercise is called Joint Sword-2024A, which probably means there will be several this year”the “A” suggesting that this is the first in a series of maneuvers, indicates Bill Bishop, China specialist, in his influential Sinocism newsletter.

“Let’s hope they don’t fly planes, drones or missiles over the islands of Taiwan. This would be a significant and harmful escalation compared to previous years. »

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 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

A conflict in the Taiwan Strait, even if most experts exclude this hypothesis in the short term, would have a devastating effect on the economy: more than 50% of the containers transported in the world pass through this strait and the island produces 70 % of semiconductors on the planet.

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