Taiwan claims that 42 warplanes entered its air defense zone and eight Chinese vessels were in the exercises. Additionally, 26 of the warplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, per the island’s Ministry of Defense.
Military drills by China were witnessed around Taiwan on Saturday as a show of “stern warning” following a stopover in the US by the island’s vice president, William Lai.
The frontrunner in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election and an opponent of China’s territory claims returned to Taiwan on Friday from his trip which included stops in San Fransisco and New York.
China called Lai a “troublemaker” in response to the trip and vowed to take “resolute measures… to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Lai in New York underlined that he was “very willing” to talk to China and seek peace and stability, while also stressing that he would “protect Taiwan’s sovereignty”, that the Taiwanese people could decide their future, and that the island and China’s people “are not subordinate to each other.”
Only last week did China’s foreign ministry urge US officials to “abide by the One-China principle and… to stop official exchanges between the US and Taiwan.”
State media outlet Xinhua quoted military spokesperson Shi Yi stating that the People’s Liberation Army “launched joint air and sea patrols and military exercises of the navy and air force around the island of Taiwan”.
The outlet added that the exercises were a test of PLA’s ability “to seize control of air and sea spaces” and fight “in real combat conditions” while serving “a stern warning to the collusion of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists with foreign elements and their provocations”.
Meanwhile, Taiwan claimed that 42 warplanes entered its air defense zone at 09:00 local time (0100 GMT), and eight Chinese vessels were in the exercises. Additionally, 26 of the warplanes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, per the island’s Ministry of Defense.
Taiwan strongly criticized “such irrational and provocative behavior” and said it would deploy “appropriate forces” to respond “with practical actions”.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence continued: “Conducting a military exercise this time under a pretext not only does not help the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait but also highlights (China’s) militaristic mentality and confirms the hegemonic nature of its military expansion”.
On the other hand, the US said last Monday that there is “no reason” to China’s reaction regarding the stopover of Taiwan’s vice president the United States, claiming that this move does not negate America’s commitment to the One China policy.
“There is no reason to over-torque this transit into anything escalatory,” US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in a press briefing.