Following Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s trip to the United States last week, the Chinese military is simulating attacks on “key targets” in Taiwan in a second day of drills many experts believe are intended to intimidate the small island nation.
On Friday, Tsai returned from her visit to America, during which she met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) – the highest-level meeting between a sitting Taiwanese president and American official ever to take place on American soil – prompting strong warnings from Beijing. The Chinese military began three days of drills on Saturday, even rehearsing an “encirclement” of the island.
“Under the unified command of the theatre joint operations command center, multiple types of units carried out simulated joint precision strikes on key targets on Taiwan island and the surrounding sea areas, and continue to maintain an offensive posture around the island,” Chinese state TV reported Sunday.
According to the Taiwan Defense Ministry, 11 Chinese navy ships and 71 Chinese warplanes were spotted around Taiwan on Sunday, with 45 planes reportedly entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Saturday. State media claimed the aircraft were armed with live weapons, Reuters reported, which Taiwanese planes also employ when attempting to scramble Chinese jets.
Along the Taiwan Strait median line – an unofficial buffer between Taiwan and Communist China – sits roughly ten Taiwanese ships and ten Chinese ships in a standoff, a security source told Reuters.
Taiwan is not China’s only target, another source familiar with the situation told Reuters. China has also reportedly been conducting air and sea attack simulations on “foreign military targets” off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. “It’s very provocative,” the source told the outlet.
This is the first time Communist China has openly talked about simulated attacks on specific Taiwanese targets in such a manner, Zhao Xiaozhuo from China’s Academy of Military Sciences told the Global Times, a state-run newspaper. Zhao also clarified what “key targets” might mean, adding that military logistics outfits, runways, and mobile targets are included, Reuters reported.
Zhao also reportedly told the Global Times that China would “annihilate” the targets “in one fell swoop if necessary.”
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The de facto United States embassy in Taiwan released a statement saying it felt “comfortable and confident” in America’s ability to keep peace and ensure stability in the region, adding the situation is being monitored closely.
Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Euronews in an interview before the Chinese drills began that if China were to attack Taiwan, it would have far-reaching implications.
“I heard this in conversations with many of our NATO allies as well as partners in Asia: there is concern that, were there to be a crisis as a result of China’s actions over Taiwan, that would have repercussions for quite literally every country on earth,” Blinken said.
China has continuously provoked Taiwan, especially since the election of Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party favors remaining independent from the communist country. Following Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) trip to Taiwan in August, China employed numerous provocative measures, including sending Chinese planes and ships in and near the Taiwan Strait, with 21 of them entering Taiwan’s air defense zone.
At the Chinese Communist Party Congress in October, President Xi Jinping called for “reunification” with Taiwan and claimed the communist nation is willing to use force to achieve it, saying they “reserve the option of taking all measures necessary,” The Daily Wire previously reported.
“The wheels of history are rolling on towards China’s reunification and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” Xi said in his opening address at the party congress. “Complete reunification of our country must be realized.”