Large numbers of Chinese military aircraft and ships crossed the halfway point of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday in a simulated land attack on the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own.
The maneuvers took place on the third day of a promised four-day series of military exercises by China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei earlier this week.
Defense analysts said Saturday’s exercises build on China’s rehearsals in recent days to stage a possible attack on Taiwan, demonstrating and weakening Beijing’s ability to impose an effective air and sea blockade that would precede an amphibious landing.
The Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily described the maneuvers as “simulated land strikes,” while Taiwan’s defense ministry said its military issued warnings from its defense radar system and deployed aerial reconnaissance patrols, naval vessels and land-based missiles as answer to this. also described as a simulated attack on the island.
The exercises will help the PLA gain more practical experience in the event of an actual attack on Taiwan, said Su Tzu-yun, a Taipei-based security expert at the National Defense and Security Research Institute, which is supported by Taiwan’s military. But Mr. Xu also said the expanded scope of the drills would heighten the West’s vigilance toward China.
In recent days, the PLA has increased the frequency with which its ships and aircraft cross the so-called median line, an imaginary border halfway between mainland China and the main island of Taiwan. Beijing does not recognize the existence of the line.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, speaking in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh on Saturday where he met with regional counterparts, defended China’s actions around Taiwan as a legitimate response to US actions and said Beijing would “decisively crush the Taiwanese authorities’ fantasy of “Relying on the United States to Pursue Independence.”
“The noose around their necks will get tighter and tighter,” Mr. Wang said, referring to pro-independence forces in Taiwan.
Saturday’s maneuvers followed a simulated PLA military blockade of the island on Friday, which Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said involved 68 Chinese warplanes and 13 warships. The actions prompted more than 200 merchant ships to leave Taiwan’s surrounding waters, including the Taiwan Strait, a major shipping route in the region.
Major General Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, told China’s state television on Friday that the PLA had sent missiles directly over Taiwan’s main island for the first time, although the Taiwanese government said the missile paths were so high that they posed no danger to the island.
Even so, some in Taiwan criticized him on social media for not revealing the details before such information was made public by Japan. Taiwan’s military said it wanted to “protect its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.”
In the run-up to Ms Pelosi’s visit, leading Chinese commentators, including Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times tabloid, had stoked nationalist fervor and the expectation of a swift and forceful response from Beijing.
Beijing had warned that Ms. Pelosi’s trip, if it took place, would trigger unspecified countermeasures. Ms Pelosi had also been warned in briefings with senior White House and Pentagon officials about the lasting damage her trip could do to US-China relations, although she was never asked to skip the trip, according to a US official. with knowledge of the discussions. .
Many on Chinese social media expressed disappointment at what they saw as mild countermeasures after Ms. Pelosi’s departure, directing their anger at Mr. Hu for misleading the public with false predictions.
In an apparent nod to public sentiment, Chinese state media played up the displays of military force during the drills that followed Ms. Pelosi’s departure. On Saturday morning, the People’s Daily touted the PLA’s precision strike and blockade capabilities on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, adding the hashtag: “Whatever China says, China will do.”
“Intervening foreign powers and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces will now have a deeper appreciation of what countermeasures mean,” People’s Daily wrote in its post, which has garnered more than 200,000 likes. Similar posts during military exercises dominated Weibo.
Separately on Saturday, Ouyang Li-hsin vice president of Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, a military-backed research body that develops and manufactures defense technology, was found dead in his hotel room in southern Taiwan, the institute. The hospital found after a medical examination that 57-year-old Mr. Ouyang died of a heart attack.
Police said there was no evidence of foul play and said they were not planning to investigate further. As part of his duties, Mr. Ouyang oversaw the production of missiles, a key element of Taiwan’s defense against any military attack from Beijing.
On Saturday, Politico reported that PLA officials have not returned calls by their Pentagon counterparts, citing unnamed sources. Representatives for the Hawaii-based US Indo-Pacific Command did not respond to requests for comment.
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