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Chinese Navy and Air Force Conduct Major Exercise Around Taiwan

PLA fighter jets. Credit:日本防衛省・統合幕僚監部

The Chinese Navy and Air Force carried out mock attacks against Taiwan today, during a military exercise that surrounded the island, China’s state media CCTV reported. The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) dispatched dozens of fighter jets carrying live missiles, CCTV wrote. The mock strikes targeted “high-value military targets” in coordination with Chinese naval ships and missile forces. The Eastern Theater Command announced that a Joint Sword-2024A exercise would take place on May 23-24, which, it said, would serve as a “stern warning” against separatist forces seeking the island’s independence.
According to CCTV, the latest destabilization and escalation of tensions in Taiwan Strait were triggered by a “deceptive” speech by Taiwan’s new leader Lai Ching-te, who was sworn in on May 20, reported TASS. In response, Taiwan’s defense ministry issued a statement: “Our servicemen remain vigilant under pressure by China’s People’s Liberation Army. The armed forces of the Republic of China are ready. We are not seeking conflict but will not sidestep it in order to ensure the country’s security and defend our wonderful motherland.'’

In a May 20 speech, newly inaugurated Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te urged “”Therefore, I hope that China will face the reality of the Republic of China’s existence,” and “engage in cooperation with the legal government chosen by Taiwan’s people.” He insisted that “The Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China are not subordinate to each other.”

Beijing has denounced the statements as provocative and separatist. Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, accused Lai of “collusion” and acting as a “pawn” of external forces, promising to “counteract and punish them.” Chen indicated that the PLA maneuvers were executed in response to Lai’s speech.