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China begins military maneuvers around Taiwan as “punishment” for its new president

She carried out her threats. This Thursday, China began large-scale military maneuvers around Taiwan using ships and aircraft. This week she threatened Taiwanese authorities with “retaliation” after calling new Taiwan President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration speech on Monday a “recognition of Taiwanese independence.”

China considers Taiwan to be one of its provinces that it has so far failed to reunite with the rest of the territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Mainland China says it favors “peaceful” reunification” with the populated island territory. with a population of 23 million and is governed by a democratic system, but has never renounced the use of military force.

The military maneuvers, which began on Thursday, represent “severe punishment for the separatist actions of the forces Taiwanese separatists and a stern warning against interference and provocations by external forces,” Li Xi, a spokesman for the Chinese Army’s Eastern Theater, said in a statement.

The military exercise began at 7:45 a.m. Thursday (2345 GMT Wednesday) and is expected to last until Friday, Li Si said. They take place “in the Taiwan Strait, north, south and east of the island of Taiwan, and in the areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin”, in close proximity to the east coast of China. .

Taipei condemns ‘irrational actions’

Dubbed Joint Sword 2024A, these new maneuvers involve the Army, Navy, Air Force and missile forces. The goal is to “test the true joint combat capabilities of the command,” the spokesman said, particularly through “taking control of the entire battlefield and precision strikes against key targets.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense “strongly condemned” these Chinese maneuvers, calling them “provocations and irrational actions.” “We have deployed sea, air and ground forces in response (…) to defend the freedom, democracy and sovereignty” of the island, he stressed.

“It is regrettable to see China engaging in unilateral and provocative military behavior that threatens Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, as well as regional peace and stability,” Taiwan presidential spokeswoman Karen Guo said Thursday. “Faced with external challenges and threats, we will continue to defend democracy,” she emphasized.

During his swearing-in on Monday, Lai Jing-te, whom Beijing has called a “dangerous separatist” in the past, vowed to defend democracy in the face of what he portrays as Chinese threats. He called on Beijing to “stop the political and military intimidation” that has been going on for several years.

Taiwanese separatists “will be pilloried by history,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded Tuesday. “Lai Ching-te’s betrayal of his nation and his ancestors is shameful,” added the minister, who particularly criticizes Lai Ching-te for wanting to deepen cultural division between island and continent.

American companies are subject to sanctions

China also responded this week by imposing sanctions on several US companies for condemning US arms sales to Taiwan. With the rise to power on the island of Tsai Ing-wen (2016-2024), whose party, like Lai Ching-te, considers this territory already independent, the Taiwanese authorities strengthened ties with the United States.

“Relying on foreign countries is taking the wrong path,” China’s army said in a message Thursday, showing dramatic and menacing images of fighter jets, ships and a missile flying away in a plume of smoke. “The Motherland must be reunited and will inevitably be reunited,” she emphasized.

The previous large-scale Chinese military exercise around Taiwan took place in August 2023, which Beijing said was a “serious warning” following a visit by Lai Ching-te, then vice president, to the United States. Before this, Beijing also began maneuvers of historic proportions in August 2022 after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, to the island.

Open conflict in the Taiwan Strait, even if most experts rule this out in the short term, would have a devastating economic impact: More than 50% of the world’s containers transit through the strait, and the island produces 70% of the planet’s semiconductors.

Source: Le Parisien

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