PLA conducts joint military drills around Taiwan region

2024-05-24 08:26:13China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Areas around China’s island of Taiwan where military drills are being held are shown in this image. (Photo/PLA Eastern Theater Command)

Areas around China’s island of Taiwan where military drills are being held are shown in this image. (Photo/PLA Eastern Theater Command)

Drills: Exercises completely in line with international law

The People's Liberation Army began two days of joint military drills on Thursday around China's Taiwan island, in a move seen as a stern warning to "Taiwan independence" forces.

In a brief statement released on Thursday morning, the PLA's Eastern Theater Command said the exercises would take place in the Taiwan Strait and to the north, south and east of Taiwan, as well as areas around the islands of Jinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, which are located in the Taiwan Strait.

Li Xi, spokesman for the theater command, said in another statement that the exercises serve as a "strong punishment" against the separatist acts of the "Taiwan independence" forces and a "stern warning" against interference and provocation by external forces.

He said the drills, code-named Joint Sword-2024A, involve military branches including the PLA's Ground Force, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force of the eastern theater command.

The exercises focus on practicing joint maritime and aerial combat readiness patrols, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes of key targets, Li said.

The spokesman added that the drills involve the patrol of vessels and planes closing in on areas around Taiwan and integrated operations inside and outside the island chain to test the joint real combat capabilities of theater command forces.

On the same day, China Coast Guard spokesman Gan Yu announced that the coast guard in East China's Fujian province organized a vessel fleet to conduct comprehensive law enforcement drills near the islands of Wuqiu and Dongyin.

The drills are looking to test the capabilities of joint patrols, rapid response and emergency handling, he said.

These actions come in response to a speech on Monday by the new leader of the Taiwan region, Lai Ching-te, who blatantly advocated "Taiwan independence".

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news conference on Thursday that the joint exercises are completely in line with international law and practices and are entirely legitimate and necessary.

Wang stressed that "Taiwan is an indivisible part of China's territory, which is both historical fact and the real status quo", saying that the fact will never change and "Taiwan independence" is a dead end.

He warned that "any separatist acts for 'Taiwan independence' will be met with resolute and powerful strikes from the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people, and all separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence' will be crushed in the face of the historical trend of complete reunification of China."

Previously, the Chinese military conducted two separate rounds of exercises around Taiwan after the visit to Taiwan by then United States House speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2022, and former island leader Tsai Ing-wen's stopover in the U.S. in 2023.

The exercises this time have included some islands that are to the north of Taiwan island and quite close to the mainland, said Zhang Junshe, a former researcher at Naval Research Academy. "This represents a further expansion and breakthrough in the exercise area and further squeezes the space for 'Taiwan independence' activities," he added.

According to a China Media Group report, after receiving instructions, multiple fleets of Navy destroyers from the Eastern Theater Command swiftly maneuvered in various directions toward the waters near Taiwan.

Zhang said the exercises aim for achieving comprehensive control of a battlefield, which would include control of the sea, air and electromagnetic spectrum, adding that they have also demonstrated that the PLA is able to precisely strike targets.

This is absolutely a punishment and a warning to figures like Lai, warning them against further promoting separatist activities for "Taiwan independence", he said.


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