China launches military drill around Taiwan as punishment for electing pro-independence President

China launched a major military drill in waters surrounding Taiwan this morning as “a strong punishment” against “Taiwan independence forces” three days after the inauguration of Taiwan’s new President, William Lai.

The Chinese Communist Party People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command announced that it will start joint exercises around Taiwan at 7:45 am today, May 23.

The exercise areas include the Taiwan Strait, Kinmen Island, Matsu Island, Wuqiu Island, Dongyin Island, and sea areas north, south, and east of Taiwan.

According to Chinese state media outlet “Military Bugle Express,” spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command, Navy Colonel Li Xi, said that from May 23 to 24, the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army organized the army, navy, air force, rocket force and other forces to carry out military operations around Taiwan. dubbed “United Sword-2024A” exercise.

Colonel Li Xi pointed out that the key exercises include joint sea and air combat readiness patrols, joint seizure of battlefield control, and joint attack on key targets. The warships and aircraft arrived on combat patrols around Taiwan, and the inside and outside of the island chain were integrated to test the actual joint combat capabilities of the theater forces.

This is punishment for “Taiwan independence” separatist forces and actions seeking “independence” and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces.

Taiwan’s defense ministry: “preparing for war, not asking for war”

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense responded by slamming the move as the Chinese Communist Party’s irrational provocations and actions that undermine regional peace and stability. The MND has dispatched sea, air, and ground forces to respond according to the All-out Defense Mobilization Readiness Act.

The MND emphasized that in the face of the repeated advances of the Communist Army, all officers and soldiers of the National Army are ready to prepare for war. They uphold the strong will of “preparing for war, not asking for war, responding to war, and not avoiding war.” In critical moments, the military and civilians work together to build a key force for defense operations and jointly protect our beautiful homeland by acting as a solid backing and building unity and consensus.

The Ministry of National Defense pointed out that in recent years, the CCP has continued to send aircraft and ships to harass, which has caused substantial damage to global peace and stability. This pretext for conducting military exercises not only does not contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but also highlights the CCP’s “hegemonic nature.”

Taiwan President’s speech angers China

The military action appears to be a response to the inauguration of President William Lai who was sworn into office Monday, May 20 after winning the Presidential Election, January 13 with 40.05% of votes. Lai once described himself as a “pragmatic worker for Taiwanese independence,” and in his inauguration speech said that “the Republic of China, Taiwan, is a sovereign and independent nation with sovereignty resting in the people” and that his government would make no concessions on its democracy and freedoms. Lai also called on Beijing to “stop its aggression against Taiwan” and strive to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region”.

The response from China’s Communist Party apparatchiks was immediate, indignant, and predictable. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi furiously lashed out the next day, saying “the ugly acts of Lai Ching-te and others who betray the nation and their ancestors is disgraceful. Nothing can stop China from achieving “reunification” and bringing Taiwan “back to the motherland. All Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history.”

Preparation for full-scale invasion

An analyst quoted by United Daily News described the military exercise is a “full-process drill for an armed invasion of Taiwan.” Chieh Chung (揭仲), an associate research fellow at the National Policy Foundation said that the current exercise is more complete than that which occurred following Nancy Pelosi’s visit in 2022. “Except for the final joint landing on the island, it is basically a full-process exercise of using force to invade Taiwan,” Chieh said.

“The reason why Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin were included this time is because once the CCP forces invade Taiwan it will inevitably take relevant actions on the outlying islands to clear out facilities that can be used to launch counterattacks against the People’s Liberation Army.

Chieh also suspects that today and tomorrows exercise may be just the first of a series. Based on the fact that the exercise is dubbed “Joint Sword-2024A,” there may be a “B” and a “C” in the future, Chieh said.

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