Chinese military drills around Taiwan have ended — state media

Agence France-Presse
Chinese military drills around Taiwan have ended � state media
This handout photograph taken on May 23, 2024 and released on May 24, 2024 by the Eastern Theater Command of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) shows Chinese fighter jets preparing to take off during the "Joint Sword-2024A" military drill at an unknown location. China warned on May 24 of war over Taiwan and said it would ramp up countermeasures until "complete reunification" was achieved, as Chinese forces conducted military drills around the self-ruled island.
Photo by Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army / AFP

BEIJING, China — China has announced the end of two days of military drills around Taiwan that it called a test of its ability to seize the self-ruled island.

The drills were launched three days after Taiwan President Lai Ching-te took office and made an inauguration speech that China denounced as a "confession of independence".

A total of 111 Chinese aircraft and dozens of naval vessels took part in the drills surrounding the island democracy, according to Taiwan's defence ministry.

The Chinese army had "successfully completed" the operation, named "Joint Sword-2024A", a presenter for state-run military news channel CCTV-7 said in a broadcast late Friday.

Chinese military analysts told state news agency Xinhua that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) vessels had inched "closer than ever before" to Taiwan's shores.

The exercises involved simulating strikes targeting the island's leaders as well as its ports and airports, they said.

This would "cut off the island's 'blood vessels' and block out its 'foreign aid regiments'", Tong Zhen, an expert from the Academy of Military Sciences, was quoted as saying.

The drills were aimed at testing the "capability of joint seizure of power, joint strikes and control of key territories", Li Xi, spokesman for the PLA's Eastern Theater Command, said Friday.

The drills are part of an escalating campaign of intimidation by China that has seen it carry out a series of large-scale military exercises around Taiwan in recent years.

Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949, when nationalists fled to the island following their defeat by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in a civil war on the mainland.

Beijing considers the democratic island part of its territory and has not ruled out using force to bring it under its control.

Beijing's defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Friday that Lai had "seriously challenged the one-China principle... pushing our compatriots in Taiwan into a perilous situation of war and danger".

"Every time 'Taiwan independence' provokes us, we will push our countermeasures one step further, until the complete reunification of the motherland is achieved," he said.

The dispute has long made the Taiwan Strait one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints, and this week's events have stoked fears that China may use military force to bring the island under mainland rule.

The United Nations called for all sides to avoid escalation.

The United States, Taiwan's strongest ally and military backer, on Thursday "strongly" urged China to act with restraint.

The Pentagon announced on Friday that Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin would meet his Chinese counterpart Dong Jun at the end of the month at the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual gathering of defence officials around the world.

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