China’s Military Maneuvers Aim to Seize Control of Taiwan

Chinese forces are currently conducting military exercises as a form of “punishment” in response to the inauguration of Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te, who is known for his skepticism towards Beijing. These exercises have now entered their second day.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Command stated on Friday that the two-day Sword 2024A joint exercise is aimed at testing the Chinese naval, ground, and air units’ capability to work together in seizing power, conducting joint strikes, and securing control over key areas.

In his inauguration speech, Lai confidently proclaimed that Taiwan, known as the Republic of China, stands as a sovereign and independent nation. He emphasized the significance of Taiwan’s role as a crucial link within the global network of democracies.

China, despite never having governed Taiwan, asserts its claim over the island and has a history of staging military demonstrations to express its dissatisfaction. A noteworthy occurrence took place after former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August 2022, when China fired a missile over the self-governed territory for the first time.

The Chinese embassy in the U.S. stated on X, formerly Twitter, that cracking down on ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and their activities is both necessary and legitimate. This action serves as a warning to external interference and provocations. Furthermore, it is fully in line with international law and common practices.

According to a report from Taiwan’s defense ministry on Friday, a total of 49 PLA aircraft, 19 warships, and seven China Coast Guard vessels were detected in the vicinity of the island starting from 6 a.m. It is noteworthy that out of the Chinese planes, 35 were observed crossing the Taiwan Strait’s median line, which has been considered as a de facto boundary that China used to adhere to in the past.

The China Coast Guard has deployed a fleet of ships for a “comprehensive law enforcement drill” in the waters east of Taiwan’s main island, according to spokesperson Gan Yu.

The Taiwanese defense forces expressed their concern about the drills, stating that they are a threat to peace and stability. In a statement, they emphasized that while they do not seek conflicts, they are fully prepared to defend their country and will not back down if necessary.

According to Rorry Daniels, managing director at the Asia Society Policy Institute, the Chinese drills were not just a tactical response to President Lai’s inaugural speech. Instead, they were seen as a strategic move aimed at improving their training and strengthening their ability to effectively use force against Taiwan.

Daniels observed that Lai’s speech highlighted Taiwan’s identity and independence, a stance that Beijing perceives as both a snub and a potential threat to their goal of reunification.

Lai urged Beijing to acknowledge the existence of the Republic of China and emphasized the importance of choosing dialogue over confrontation.

In a statement shared with Newsweek, a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Defense expressed concern over the reports of joint military drills conducted by the People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan.

The authorities mentioned that they are closely monitoring the situation in coordination with Taiwanese officials. They expressed confidence in their current force posture and operations in the region, ensuring peace, stability, and fulfilling their national security commitments.

According to a statement from the U.S. State Department to Newsweek, they emphasized the importance of Beijing exercising restraint and avoiding the use of Taiwan’s political transition as an excuse for provocative or coercive actions.

According to Sean King, an Asia scholar and senior vice president of New York-based consultancy Park Strategies, Beijing made a strategic blunder in terms of optics across the strait by conducting these exercises.

In the past few days, Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, has witnessed significant protests against the opposition parties’ attempts to pass controversial reforms without undergoing review by Lai’s Democratic Progressive Party and other minority parties.

He said that these military exercises, along with what is happening in Taiwan’s legislature, will only serve to unite the people of Taiwan behind their new leader.

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MBS Staff
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