China Sends Warships and Fighter Jets Toward Taiwan in Retaliation for US-Taiwan Meeting

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Tensions between China and Taiwan escalated on Saturday as the Chinese military sent warships and dozens of fighter jets towards the self-ruled island democracy claimed by Beijing as part of its territory. The move came in retaliation for a meeting between the U.S. House of Representatives speaker and the Taiwanese President, which China perceives as encouraging Taiwanese independence.

The Chinese military announced the start of a three-day “combat readiness patrol” as a warning to Taiwanese separatists who want to make the island’s de facto independence permanent. The People’s Liberation Army did not indicate whether they might repeat previous exercises that included missiles fired into the sea, which disrupted shipping and airline flights.

On the same day, the Chinese navy planned to hold “live fire training” in Luoyuan Bay in Fujian province opposite Taiwan. Ships were banned during the firing, which was also scheduled to take place on five dates over the next two weeks.

Taiwan split from China in 1949 after a civil war. The ruling Communist Party believes that the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary. Beijing says contact with foreign officials encourages Taiwanese who want formal independence, a step the ruling party says would lead to war.

“This is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation between the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and external forces,” said a PLA statement. The “Joint Sword” exercises “defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The exercise involved a destroyer, missile boats, ballistic missiles, and land-based anti-ship missiles as well as early warning, electronic warfare, and tanker aircraft, according to The Global Times, a newspaper published by the Communist Party. The Taiwanese military responded by activating missile defense systems and sending air and sea patrols to track the Chinese aircraft.

“We condemn such an irrational act that has jeopardized regional security and stability,” said a statement by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.

China’s President, Xi Jinping, has been increasing efforts to intimidate the island by flying fighter jets and bombers nearby and firing missiles into the sea. The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but maintains extensive informal and commercial ties.

Military analysts suggest that in the event of an attack, China may try to pressure Taiwan to surrender by blocking sea and air traffic, preventing the United States, Japan, or other allies from intervening or sending supplies.

On Saturday, the PLA was testing its ability to dominate the sea, air, and information and to “create a situation of deterrence and suppression,” according to the mainland newspaper The China Daily.

Taiwan and mainland China have multibillion-dollar trade and investment ties but no official relations. “We will never leave room for ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in any form and will definitely take resolute measures to defeat any foreign interference,” said Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without doubt, be realized,” Zhu was quoted as saying on Friday.

Source: npr

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