China concludes intense military drills near Taiwan

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File photo.

25th May 2024 – (Beijing) China has recently concluded a two-day military exercise around Taiwan, featuring simulated attacks using bombers and ship boarding practices. The drills, dubbed “Joint Sword – 2024A”, commenced just three days after the inauguration of Taiwan’s new President, Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing labels a “separatist”.

The exercises were described by Beijing as a direct response to President Lai’s inaugural address, in which he asserted that Taiwan and China “are not subordinate to each other”, a statement China interpreted as a claim of sovereignty. Despite repeated offers from President Lai to engage in dialogue, relations remain strained, with Beijing consistently rejecting these overtures and asserting its sovereignty claims over the democratically governed island.

On one of the exercise days, the Taiwan Defence Ministry reported an unprecedented level of activity: 46 Chinese military aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a line previously respected as an informal boundary between the two sides. In total, the ministry detected 62 aircraft and 27 naval vessels participating in the manoeuvres. Among these were advanced Su-30 fighters and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, which were observed not only in the strait but also along the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines.

The Taiwanese government has voiced strong opposition to these exercises, stating they will not succumb to Chinese intimidation tactics. Meanwhile, footage of Chinese military aircraft, captured by Taiwanese forces, was released, underscoring the heightened military presence.

This series of drills is part of a broader pattern of increased military activity around Taiwan, with significant large-scale exercises also recorded in the previous years. The official stance from the People’s Liberation Army, as articulated in their daily publication, remains firm, warning of decisive actions against any moves towards Taiwanese independence.