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China launches military drills around Taiwan

News Desk || risingbd.com

Published: 12:00, 23 May 2024   Update: 12:02, 23 May 2024
China launches military drills around Taiwan

Photo: BBC

China has launched two days of military drills in the water and airspace around the self-governing island of Taiwan, according to Chinese state media.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army started the drills at 7:45am (23:45 GMT) on Thursday in the Taiwan Strait, the north, south and east of Taiwan, as well as areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.

Military spokesman Colonel Li Xi said the joint exercises involving the army, navy, air force, and rocket force were a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces”, according to a post on China’s Weibo messaging platform.

The show of strength, code-named Joint Sword-2024A, comes three days after Taiwan’s new president, William Lai Ching-te, took his oath of office and called on Beijing to stop its “intimidation” of the island, which China claims as its own.

Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goal of unification and has reacted angrily to the inauguration of Lai, a man whom it considers a “troublemaker” and a “separatist”.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence said it had placed its military on “high alert” in response to China’s drills, which it described as “irrational provocations and actions that disrupt regional peace and stability”.

Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the Indo-Pacific programme at the German Marshall Fund of the United States noted that Beijing’s response to Lai’s election victory in January had been relatively restrained.

“The PRC evidently decided to wait until he delivered his inaugural address and then determine their response,” she told Al Jazeera, referring to China by the initials of its formal name.

“It’s clear that Beijing strongly objects to what they view as an attempt to develop a comprehensive ‘Taiwan independence’ narrative with the goal of altering the nature of cross-strait relations. I expect that they will roll out a series of military, political, and economic measures over the coming weeks and months.”

In Lai’s first address to the public after taking his oath, he said that “the Republic of China, Taiwan, is a sovereign and independent nation with sovereignty resting in the people” and stressed that his government would make no concessions on its democracy and freedoms.

He called on Beijing to “stop its aggression against Taiwan” and strive to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region”.

(With inputs from Al Jazeera)