China ended three days of military drills around Taiwan on Monday saying they had tested integrated military capabilities under actual combat conditions, having practiced precision strikes and blockading the island nation that Beijing views as its own.
Beijing announced the drills on Saturday after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen held a meeting in Los Angeles with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring the democratically-governed island under Beijing’s control. Taiwan’s government strongly disputes China‘s claims and has denounced the drills.
The Chinese military said it had “successfully completed” the exercises and “comprehensively tested” the capabilities of multiple units under actual combat conditions.
“The troops in the theatre are ready to fight all the time and can fight at any time, resolutely crushing any form of Taiwan independence separatism and foreign interference,” the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.
Chinese state television said earlier on Monday that aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles, and warships staged drills to “form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation”.
The Eastern Theatre Command said the Shandong aircraft carrier had also taken part in combat patrols in the Pacific Ocean, and it showed fighters taking off from its deck.
Taiwan has been tracking Chinese ships since last week.
Taiwan’s defense ministry published a map on Monday of the previous 24 hours of Chinese air force activities, showing four carrier-based Chinese J-15 fighters operating over the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan’s east.
The ministry said that as of mid-morning on Monday, it had spotted 59 military aircraft and 11 ships around Taiwan and that the Shandong carrier group was conducting drills in the Western Pacific.
The Shandong conducted air operations in waters close to Japan’s Okinawan islands on Sunday, Japan’s defense ministry said on Monday.
Jet fighters and helicopters took off and landed on the carrier 120 times from Friday to Sunday, with the carrier, three other warships, and a support vessel coming within 143 miles of Japan’s Miyako island, the defense ministry said.
Japan has been following China‘s military drills around Taiwan “with great interest”, a top government spokesperson said on Monday.
Japan has long worried about China‘s military activities in the area given how close southern Japanese islands are to Taiwan.
The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts a major U.S. air force base, and last August when China staged war games to protest the visit of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, Chinese missiles landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The European Union also expressed concern on Monday, saying Taiwan’s status should not be changed by force as any escalation, accident, or use of force there would have huge global implications.
The United States has said it is watching China‘s drills closely.
‘LOCK ON THE TARGET’
China‘s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan on the second day of drills around the island on Sunday.
The Eastern Theatre Command on Monday released a short video on its WeChat account showing an H-6 bomber flying in what it said was the skies north of Taiwan.
“The missiles are in good condition,” an unidentified voice says, as the video shows images from the cockpit.
“Start the fire control radar, lock on the target,” another voice says, showing images of a missile under the aircraft’s wing.
It then shows a pilot readying the fire control button for what it describes as a simulated attack, and then pressing the button, though it did not show any missiles being fired.
Taiwan’s military has repeatedly said it will respond calmly to China‘s drills and not provoke conflict.
The defense ministry separately released pictures on Monday of mobile launchers for the Taiwan-made Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles at an undisclosed location, as well as missile-armed fast attack boats at sea.
Reuters reporters at the Cape Maobitou park in Pingtung county on Taiwan’s southern tip saw Hsiung Feng launchers deployed near a scenic spot on Monday, as soldiers stood guard and tourists watched and posed for pictures.
Life in Taiwan has continued normally with no signs of panic or disruption, and civilian flights operating as usual.
Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters