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Monday, February 26, 2024

China conducts military exercises near Taiwan over US ‘provocations’

Beijing claims democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, to be taken one day by force if necessary, and has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island.

China conducted military exercises near Taiwan on Sunday in response to “provocations” and “collusion” between the United States and the self-ruled island, a People’s Liberation Army spokesperson said.

Beijing claims democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory, to be taken one day by force if necessary, and has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island.

Read more: China angered, Taiwan cheered by new U.S. defence act

Beijing has been incensed by US President Joe Biden’s handling of Taiwan — especially after he said Washington would defend it militarily.

China did not specify the number of aircraft mobilised for Sunday’s exercises, nor the exact location of these manoeuvers.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “organised joint combat readiness patrol and joint fire strike drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan Island,” said Shi Yi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command.

“This is a firm response to the escalating collusion and provocations by the US and the Taiwanese authorities.”

The PLA also published photos of a bomber, a warship and an aerial landscape taken from a plane’s cockpit showing what it said was a mountain range in Taiwan.

The latter shot was meant to emphasise how close the aircraft got to the Taiwanese coast.

China’s Foreign Ministry had also expressed “strong opposition” on Saturday after a US defence bill authorised $10 billion in military aid and seeks to expedite arms sales to Taiwan.

Read more: Russia and China to hold joint naval drills

Tensions peaked in August after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, with the PLA staging huge military drills around the island in protest.

Beijing lashes out at any diplomatic action that might lend Taiwan legitimacy and has responded with growing anger to visits by Western officials and politicians.