“Strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces,” according to state media, is what the drills, which are taking place in the Taiwan Strait and to the island’s north, south, and east, are intended to achieve.

As “severe punishment” for “separatist acts,” China has begun two days of military drills encircling Taiwan with aircraft and navy vessels, according to state media. The military exercise began on Thursday, three days after Lai Ching-te took office as Taiwan’s new leader, and China has labeled Lai as a “dangerous separatist” who will bring “war and decline” to the island.

China regards the island as a renegade province with which it must eventually be reunified, and has refused to rule out using military force to do so.

Relations have plunged in recent years as China has put pressure on the island, periodically stoking worries about a potential invasion.

Joint Sword-2024A
Joint Sword-2024A, as it is code-named, will take place on Thursday and Friday. According to Xinhua, the exercises will “focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets.”
The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began joint military drills around the island of Taiwan on Thursday at 7:45 a.m. (2345 GMT), the news agency reported. The drills will take place in the Taiwan Strait as well as to the island’s north, south, and east.

The drills will also take place around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, Xinhua said. The news agency reported military spokesman Li Xi as saying the exercises “involve the patrol of vessels and planes closing in on areas around the island of Taiwan and integrated operations inside and outside the island chain to test the joint real combat capabilities of the forces of the command”. The spokesperson said the drills would also serve as a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces”, Xinhua news agency said.

‘Real combat conditions’
The last time China announced similar military exercises around the island was in August last year after Lai, then vice president, stopped over in the United States on a visit to Paraguay. Those drills also tested the PLA’s ability “to seize control of air and sea spaces” and fight “in real combat conditions”, according to state media. Beijing at the time described them as a “stern warning”.

They followed on the heels of April drills that simulated the encirclement of the island, triggered after Lai’s predecessor Tsai Ing-wen met then-US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. China also launched major military exercises in 2022 after Nancy Pelosi, then the speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan. The country also held drills when then-president Tsai later transited through the United States.





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