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China launched military maneuvers as "severe punishment" against Taiwan

China has surrounded Taiwan on Thursday, with military ships and planes, as part of maneuvers presented by Beijing as "punishment" against the new president of the island and the “independentist” forces.

Taiwan “will defend the values ​​of freedom and democracy,” said President Lai Ching-te. “I will stand on the front lines with our brothers and sisters in the military to defend national security together.”

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

The maneuvers, scheduled until Friday, began Thursday at 7:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m. GMT Wednesday), Li Xi, the spokesperson for the Chinese army's eastern theater, said in a statement.

They take place “in the Taiwan Strait, to the north, south and east of the island of Taiwan, as well as in the areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin” – close to the Chinese east coast.

The Chinese coast guard also announced that it had launched a “law and order exercise” near the Taiwanese islands of Wuqiu and Dongyin.

These exercises come three days after Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech, perceived by China as an “admission of Taiwan's independence”.

China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces, which it has not yet succeeded in reunifying with its territory since the end of the civil war and the Communists came to power in 1949.

– “Serious warnings” –

For its part, Taiwan took off four fighter planes from the Hsinchu base, about sixty kilometers southwest of Taipei, around 1:00 p.m. local time.

China launched military maneuvers as "severe punishment" against Taiwan

A Mirage 2000 fighter jet of the Taiwan Air Force prepares to take off from a base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, May 23, 2024 © AFP – Yasuyoshi CHIBA

Footage released by the Taiwan Coast Guard shows officers speaking to Chinese ships via loudspeaker: “Your movements affect the order and security of our country, please turn around and leave our waters… ) as soon as possible”, proclaims one of them in a video.

The Taiwanese coast guard has also deployed its fleet at sea.

The Ministry of Defense of Taiwan announced that it had detected 49 Chinese planes “since 7:20 a.m.”, “of which 35 crossed the median line”, cutting the Taiwan Strait in two, between the island and the continent.

Its spokesperson, Sun Li-fang, said the Chinese exercises were “destructive” for regional peace and stability.

These maneuvers constitute “severe punishment for the separatist acts of the +Taiwan independence+ forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces”, indicated Chinese spokesperson Li Xi.

They are a “serious warning” to the “separatists” of the island who will end up “in blood”, also affirmed Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy.

– “Testing capabilities” –

The People's Republic of China says it favors “peaceful” reunification with the island territory of 23 million inhabitants, but does not exclude the use of force.

Called “Joint Sword-2024A”, these new maneuvers involve the army, the navy, the army of air and rocket unit. The objective is to “test the joint real combat capabilities of the command's forces”.

China launched military maneuvers as "severe punishment" against Taiwan

China's military exercises around Taiwan © AFP – Nicholas SHEARMAN

On Chinese state television CCTV, Zhang Chi, professor at the National Defense University in Beijing, indicated that the maneuvers aimed to “impose an economic blockade” of Taiwan by “strangling” the strategic port of Kaohsiung.

This makes it possible to cut off “vital energy imports for Taiwan” and “block the support that certain allies of the United States provide to the forces + Taiwan separatists+”, according to him.

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

In Washington, a senior official who requested anonymity said that the The United States was “monitoring the situation very closely” and called on China “to exercise restraint”, urging it not to “use the political transition in Taiwan as a pretext or excuse for provocative and coercive measures”.< /p>

Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, called on the various parties to “refrain from any action that could aggravate tensions”.

CCTV released a map showing the nine areas where the exercises are taking place. The closest to the island of Taiwan seems to be located less than 50 kilometers from the coast.

During his swearing-in on Monday, Lai Ching-te, described in the past as a “dangerous separatist” by Beijing, called on China to “stop its political and military intimidation”.

< p>Taiwanese separatists “will be pilloried of shame for history”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reacted on Tuesday.

– “Wrong road” –

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

China launched military maneuvers as "severe punishment" against Taiwan

A ship off the coast of Kinmen, Taiwan, May 23, 2024 © AFP – I-Hwa CHENG

Since the coming to power on the island of Tsai Ing-wen (2016-2024), whose party, the same as that of Lai Ching-te, considers this territory as already independent, the Taiwanese authorities have strengthened their ties with the United States.

“Relying on foreign countries is taking the wrong path,” the army said on Thursday Chinese in a message showing impressive and threatening images of fighter planes, ships and missiles. “The homeland (…) will inevitably be reunified.”

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

Beijing had also launched maneuvers of historic scale in August 2022 after the visit to the island of Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the American 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 the planet's semiconductors.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116