Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu accused Beijing of trying to interfere with an upcoming national election in Taiwan, after the Chinese military launched military exercises in sea and airspace around the island nation today, August 19.
China’s People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command announced the drills on the PLA’s official Weibo account this morning, saying that it was carrying out joint naval and air combat readiness patrols around Taiwan focusing on ship-aircraft coordination to test seizing control of air and sea space and combat capabilities.
“The patrols and exercises serve as a stern warning to the collusion of Taiwan independence separatists with foreign elements and their provocations,” an Eastern Theater Command spokesperson told Chinese state media outlet Xinhua News.
Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times said that “PLA destroyers, frigates, missile boats, fighters, early warning aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, and conventional missile unites started to approach and deter Taiwan island from multiple directions in Saturday’s joint drills.”
The drills are being interpreted as a response to vice president William Lai’s recent stopovers in the United States on his way to and from a visit to Taiwan’s diplomatic ally, Paraguay. William Lai, a self-described “practical worker for Taiwan independence,” is running for president in the upcoming January 2024 elections. China’s foreign minister last week described Lai as a “troublemaker through and through.”
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense this morning condemned the military drills, and said that it had deployed appropriate forces in response. The MND said that it had the ability, determination, and confidence to ensure national security.
The MND said this afternoon that it had detected 42 PLA aircraft, 26 of which had crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait. “The R.O.C. Armed Forces are closely monitoring the situation with our ISR system and have deployed CAP aircraft, naval vessels, and land-based missile systems in response,” the MND said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Wu tweeted: “the PRC has made it clear it wants to shape Taiwan’s coming national election. Well, it’s up to our citizens to decide, not the bully next door. Look, China should hold its own elections; I’m sure its people would be thrilled.”
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