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Drills around Taiwan ‘test ability to seize power’: China – DW – 05/24/2024

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China’s military continued its war drills around Taiwan on Friday, testing their ability to “seize power” and control key areas, with Chinese naval vessels and military aircraft encircling the island.

These drills were launched on Thursday in response to Taiwanese President William Lai Ching-te’s recent inauguration.

China sees the self-ruled island as a part of its territory, and has not ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

What did Beijing say about the drills?

The two-day military exercises, named “Joint Sword-2024A,” began on Thursday, three days after Lai took office.

Taking place in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan-controlled islands near China’s coast, the drills aim to “test the ability to jointly seize power, launch joint attacks, and occupy key areas,” according to the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command spokesperson Li Xi.

According to Beijing, the drills are a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.” China has denounced Lai as a “dangerous separatist.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin promised dire consequences for those on the island who seek independence.

In China, the Xinhua news agency and state-run People’s Daily published editorials on Friday praising the drills, condemning Lai’s “treacherous behavior,” and promising a “severe blow.”

How did Taiwan react?

Taiwan’s government condemned the drills, and mobilized its armed forces to monitor the situation.

President Lai Ching-te
President Lai Ching-te said he would “stand on the front line” to defend TaiwanImage: Ann Wang/REUTERS

President Lai said in a speech on Thursday that he would “stand on the front line” to defend Taiwan. Lai did not directly mention the ongoing Chinese drills.

In his inauguration address on Monday, Lai vowed to defend the island’s democracy as he called on China to end its military intimidation of Taiwan.

Experts say the drills serve as a warning that Chinese forces could quickly impose a blockade on Taiwan to pressure the self-ruled island into submission.

Meanwhile, the United Nations urged all parties to avoid escalation, while the United States, a Taiwan ally, “strongly” called on China to exercise restraint.

Taiwan Tensions Soar: China Stages Live-Fire Drills After New Leader’s Inauguration

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ss/sri (Reuters, AFP)

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