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China states that drills around Taiwan aim to test its ability to seize power and occupy key areas

China states that drills around Taiwan aim to test its ability to seize power and occupy key areas

China’s military conducted a second day of war games around Taiwan on Friday, focusing on drills to test its ability to “seize power” and control key areas. These exercises, named “Joint Sword – 2024A,” took place near groups of islands controlled by Taiwan near the Chinese coast. The drills began just three days after Lai Ching-te assumed office as Taiwan’s new president.

China considers Taiwan its own territory and views Lai as a “separatist.” Criticizing Lai’s inauguration speech, in which he asserted Taipei’s independence from Beijing, China launched these exercises to send a message. The drills aimed to test the ability of Chinese forces to jointly seize power, launch attacks, and occupy strategic areas. China has consistently refused to rule out the use of force to reunify Taiwan with the mainland.

During the drills, Chinese bombers simulated attacks on foreign vessels near the eastern end of the Bashi Channel, a strategic waterway separating Taiwan from the Philippines. The objective was to practice seizing control of areas west of the “first island chain,” an important maritime boundary stretching from Japan through Taiwan to the Philippines. Additionally, Chinese coast guard boats engaged in “harassment” exercises off Taiwan’s east coast, conducting mock inspections of civilian ships.

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The Chinese Coast Guard described its activities as “law enforcement drills” focused on verification, identification, warning, and repulsion. A video shared on Chinese social media depicted missiles being launched at Taiwan from various platforms, with words in traditional Chinese characters denouncing Taiwan’s independence.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s armed forces closely monitored and shadowed Chinese military activities. Pictures released by Taiwan’s defense ministry showed F-16 fighter jets armed with live missiles patrolling the skies. Additionally, images of Chinese coast guard vessels and naval ships participating in the drills were shared, although their exact locations were not disclosed.

The drills come amidst ongoing tensions between China and Taiwan, with Lai repeatedly expressing willingness to engage in talks with Beijing, only to be met with rejection. While Taiwanese media extensively covered the military exercises, they also focused on domestic issues such as protests over contested parliament reforms.

On China’s Weibo platform, discussions about the “Eastern Theatre” and “the return of Taiwan” garnered significant attention, with many expressing support for the drills.