After three days of extensive war drills near Taiwan that simulated closing off the island in retaliation for the Taiwanese president’s visit to the United States last week, China’s military declared on Monday that it is “ready to battle.”
The self-governing Taiwan, which China claims as its own, was to be warned by the “combat readiness patrols” known as Joint Sword, according to past statements from China’s military.
According to a statement released on Monday, “the theater’s troops are always prepared to fight and are capable of fighting at any time to fiercely demolish any attempts at ‘Taiwan independence’ and foreign meddling.”
The drills resembled those China carried out in August of last year when it fired missiles at targets in the waters surrounding Taiwan in response to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
According to military experts, the exercises are a form of intimidation and a chance for Chinese troops to train, closing off Taiwan by obstructing air and sea travel, a crucial tactical move the Chinese military might make if it decides to use military force to annex Taiwan.
The Chinese steps come in response to President Tsai Ing-delicate wen’s journey to strengthen Taiwan’s waning diplomatic ties in Central America and increase its backing from the United States, a trip topped off by a delicate meeting with U.S. Kevin McCarthy, the House Speaker, is in California.
Tsai also met with a U.S. congressional delegation when she returned to Taiwan over the weekend.
China immediately responded to the McCarthy meeting by placing a travel ban and financial sanctions against anyone connected to Tsai’s trip to the United States and with increased military activity through the weekend.
According to Kuo Yu-jen, head of the Center for National Policy Research in Taiwan and a specialist in defense studies, “China intends to utilize any rise in diplomatic interactions between the U.S. and Taiwan as an excuse to train its military.”
Beijing claims that interactions between foreign diplomats and Taiwan’s democratically elected government encourage the island’s citizens to seek formal independence, a move China’s governing Communist Party claims will spark a conflict.
After a civil war that divided the two sides, the island must reunite with the mainland by force if necessary, according to the Communist Party.
Following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China launched missile attacks on maritime targets in the area and sent warships and fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait’s centerline.
Flights and freight in one of the busiest shipping lanes for international trade were affected by the live-fire drills. This time, Kuo said, maritime commerce and shipping have mainly carried on as usual.
This time, the exercises were more heavily weighted toward air power, with Taiwan reporting 200 flights by Chinese jets over the last three days. According to the People’s Liberation Army, quoted by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV, the exercises “simulate the joint shutting off” of Taiwan and “waves of simulated strikes” at strategic points on the island.
The PLA said on Monday that the aircraft carrier Shandong was participating in the exercises encircling Taiwan for the first time.
In a post, it featured a video of a fighter jet taking off from the ship’s deck.