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China launches 'punishment' drills in Taiwan after new president takes office

China has launched a series of military exercises around Taiwan on Thursday as “punishment” for the swearing-in of the island's new president, Chinese state media reported.

Lai Ching-te, a member of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the island's presidential election in January and was inaugurated on May 20. Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) initiated joint naval and air drills around the island in an act of intimidation and retaliation for Taiwan's continued claim of independence.

The “Taiwan issue” is one of Beijing's most sensitive questions. China sees Taiwan as a rogue territory that must be reunited with the mainland and demands that other countries see the issue the same way. Some in the international community are concerned that China will eventually invade Taiwan and take the island by force if it does not surrender peacefully.

“Those like Lai Ching-te have betrayed their nation and their ancestors. What they have done is simply shameful,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Webin told reporters during a press Wednesday's briefing warned that Taiwanese independent forces “will be left with broken heads and blood flowing” if they challenge China, according to the Hindustan Times.

“No matter what tricks they play, they will not stop China's complete reunification and Taiwan's return to the motherland's embrace,” Wang said. “All 'Taiwan independence' separatists will see their names written on the wall of shame.”

The PLA's Eastern Theater Command began the exercises on Thursday morning and is expected to continue the exercises until Friday, PLA spokesman Li Xi told Chinese state media. The PLA is also conducting “precision strikes on key targets” drills as part of the operations to test the “real combat capabilities of the command forces”.

Taiwanese security forces spotted 42 Chinese fighter jets, 16 coast guard ships and 15 warships around the island and smaller neighboring islands on Thursday. seconds in the New York Times. None of the Chinese planes or ships had entered Taiwanese territory or airspace until Thursday.

“The [Republic of China] The Armed Forces are ready to defend our country. We do not seek conflict, but we will not shy away from it,” Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said. said Thursday.

The drills are some of the largest China has conducted since former US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted then-Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Washington in April 2023, angering Beijing given its opposition to bilateral relations between Taiwan and other nations. Even bigger drills were held when former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi held one visit in Taiwan in August 2022.

Current tensions between China and Taiwan have sparked international concern that China is preparing for a real-scale invasion this could lead to war with the West. The USA maintains a “One China” policy and does not recognize Taiwan's independence, but considers the island a strong ally and has defense agreements to provide military equipment for defenses.

The US also maintains a position of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to Taiwan, without disclosing whether it would defend the island militarily in the event of an incursion. The White House has had to do it on several occasions to walk back President Joe Biden's claims that the US would be involved in a conflict with China if it decided to invade Taiwan.

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