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China surrounds Taiwan in military maneuvers

Photo: Taiwan Ministry of Defense archives via Agence France-Presse In this photo made available on September 13, 2023, by the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong (left, rear) is guarded by a Taiwanese Keelung-type warship.

Katell Abiven – Agence France-Presse and Amber Wang – Agence France-Presse in Beijing

Published yesterday at 9:34 p.m. Updated at 6:40 a.m.

  • Asia

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

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

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

A bit earlier a spokesperson for the Taiwanese presidency had deplored Beijing's “provocative military behavior”.

These exercises come three days after Lai Ching's inauguration speech -you. China saw these remarks as an “admission of Taiwan’s independence” and threatened the Taiwanese authorities with “retaliation”.

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 and the communists came to power.

The maneuvers began at 7:45 a.m. Thursday (11:45 p.m. GMT Wednesday) and are expected to last until Friday, spokesperson Li Xi said in a statement. of the Eastern theater of the Chinese army.

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”.

The latter islands are located in the immediate vicinity of the Chinese east coast.

“Serious Warnings”

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

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

Images broadcast by the Taiwan Coast Guard show officers ordering Chinese ships to leave the area over loudspeakers.

“Your movements are affecting the order and security of our country, please turn around and leave our restricted waters as soon as possible,” one of the officers proclaims in a video posted by the Coast Guard on social media.

The Taiwanese Coast Guard has also deployed its fleet to sea.

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,” Li Xi said.

< p>They are a “serious warning” addressed to the “separatists” of the island who will end up “in blood,” warned Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy during a regular press briefing.

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“Testing Abilities”

Mainland China, led by the Communist Party, says it favors “peaceful” reunification with the democratically governed island territory of 23 million people. But it has never renounced the use of military force.

Called “Joint Sword-2024A”, these new maneuvers involve the army, the navy, the Air Force and Rocket Unit.

The goal is to “test the joint real-world combat capabilities of the command's forces,” the command said. spokesperson.

On Chinese state television CCTV, Zhang Chi, a professor at the National Defense University in Beijing, said the maneuvers were aimed at ” impose an economic blockade on the island” by “strangling” the port of Kaohsiung, strategic for Taiwan.

Such a blockade 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 “Taiwan independence” forces”, according to him.

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

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

During his swearing-in on Monday, Lai Ching-te, qualified by the passed from “dangerous separatist” by Beijing, had called on China to “cease its political and military intimidation”.

Taiwanese separatists “will be nailed to the pillory 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.

Since coming to power on the island of Tsai Ing-wen (2016-2024), whose party, the same as 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 Chinese army said Thursday in a message showing impressive and threatening images of fighter planes , ships and missiles.

“The homeland must be reunified and will inevitably be reunified,” she said.

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 .

Beijing 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 transit through this strait and the island produces 70% of the planet's semiconductors.

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