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Sabre rattling around Taiwan

Another military maneuver and martial statements from Beijing are increasing concerns about an escalation of the conflict between China and Taiwan. Taipei has put the army on alert.

In response to Chinese military exercises around the democratically governed island, Taiwan has put its troops on alert. China's “irrational provocation has endangered regional peace and stability,” the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said. Taiwan will not seek conflict, but will not shy away from it either.

Taiwanese forces at sea, on land and in the air have been deployed to defend “freedom and democracy with practical actions,” Taipei said.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense also reported that at least 15 Chinese navy ships, 16 Chinese coast guard ships and more than 40 Chinese fighter jets had been spotted around the island.

As a regional partner of Taiwan, Australia expressed concern about the rising tensions with China. There are fears that Chinese military operations in the Taiwan Strait could lead to an accident or escalation, said a spokesman for Foreign Minister Penny Wong. “Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are in all of our interests.”

Large-scale military exercise around Taiwan

Shortly after the inauguration of the new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te, China began a large-scale military exercise around the East Asian island republic. The army, navy, air force and missile forces would be holding exercises in the strait between China and Taiwan and around Taiwan itself until Friday, it was said.

“This is also a harsh punishment for the separatist forces of Taiwan independence and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” said the spokesman for the Eastern Branch of the People's Liberation Army, Marine Colonel Li Xi.

Beijing: Separatist Forces are “shattered”

According to military expert Zhang Chi on Chinese state television, China is simulating a blockade of Taiwan during the maneuver. The army wants to practice stopping energy imports “as a lifeline” to Taiwan, cutting off escape routes for Taiwan's politicians abroad and preventing support from allies such as the USA. The exercise is likely to be the largest since April 2023, in which China also rehearsed a blockade.

The exercises are in line with international law and are completely justified and necessary, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin. All separatist forces pushing for Taiwan's independence would be “crushed in the face of the historical development of China's complete reunification,” he added.

Taiwan: Military exercise endangers peace and stability

“It is regrettable to see the unilateral military provocations that endanger Taiwan's democracy and freedom as well as peace and stability,” said a spokeswoman for the Taiwanese president after the exercises were announced. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in January and stands for Taiwan's independence, but the new incumbent, Lai Ching-te, has so far not indicated that he wants to officially declare it.

The ruling Communist Party in Beijing accuses the DPP of separatism. China's government had interpreted Lai's inaugural speech as a dangerous signal for independence and read a more radical approach into it. Lai had demanded, for example, that China must accept Taiwan's existence.

China considers Taiwan to be its own territory. The leadership in Beijing regularly threatens war if there is no peaceful annexation. Against this backdrop, China's military repeatedly carries out maneuvers around the island.

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, tagesschau, 23.05.2024 11:51 a.m.

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