China Launches Military Drills Near Taiwan After U.S. Visit
China’s military said on Saturday it launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan after the leader of the self-ruled island infuriated Beijing by visiting the United States.
The exercises are being held “according to plan” to the north, south and east of Taiwan, a statement by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said, providing no further details.
Taiwan said the military would “defend our country” and that assets had been redeployed.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen met Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy for talks in California on Wednesday.
The meeting between Tsai and the senior Republican lawmaker was the first of its kind on U.S. soil. She returned to Taiwan on Friday night.
Beijing denounced the visit and promised to retaliate.
On Friday, the Chinese government announced sanctions against U.S. organisations which hosted the Taiwanese leader during her trip.
Tsai stopped in the U.S. on her return from Central America, where she met the leaders of Guatemala and Belize. The White House insists her time in the U.S. was not an official visit.
Beijing regards Taiwan as part of China and rejects any official contact between other countries and Taipei. China has previously raised the prospect of taking the island by force if necessary, with the U.S. threatening to take action if that happens. Taiwan is a self-governing democracy and has long seen itself as independent.
A visit to Taiwan in August by McCarthy’s predecessor, the veteran Democrat Nancy Pelosi, prompted China to stage its biggest live-fire drills in the waters around Taiwan in years.
Following Beijing’s announcement of the new drills, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence said the country’s armed forces “monitored the situation and responded accordingly with our assets to defend our country.”
In an update from 11 am (GMT 0400), the ministry said that 42 PLA warplanes and eight vessels were detected around Taiwan in the last five hours.
“29 of the detected aircraft had crossed northern, central, and southern median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered our southwest ADIZ (air defence identification zone), attempting coercion on us,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Taiwan views the median line as a political boundary marking its control area, and China has generally respected it in the past.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, which handles dealings with Beijing, on Saturday condemned China’s attempts at military intimidation, saying such moves undermine regional peace and stability.
“Taiwan will not submit and will not act in haste to provoke,” it said in a statement.
During a lunch banquet with a visiting U.S. congressional delegation in Tapei on Saturday, Taiwan’s President Tsai stressed that cooperation among democracies has become even more important because “in recent years, we have faced continued authoritarian expansionism.”
“We will continue to work with the United States and other like-minded countries to defend the values of freedom and democracy jointly,” Tsai said.
U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, who led the delegation, said that it was important that all democracies stand together against tyranny and oppression, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as Chinese aggression against Taiwan and in the Pacific.
“We are doing everything we can in Congress to speed up these sales and get the weapons that you need to defend yourself,” McCaul told Tsai.
“And we will provide training to your military, not for war, but for peace,” he added. The cross-party U.S. delegation’s three-day visit to Taiwan, scheduled to end on Saturday, is part of a longer trip to the Indo-Pacific region.
Before meeting with Tsai, the group had met with other national leaders in Japan and South Korea, McCaul said.
Later on Saturday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence released a video showing that it was closely monitoring the situation, adding that Taipei seeks neither escalation nor conflict.
“We remain steadfast, rational, and serious about reacting and defending our territory and sovereignty,” the ministry said in the clip, which included footage of Taiwanese military exercises. Naira Lost 11% as Banks Issue New Update on FX Spending