China’s military on Sunday culminated its largest-ever military exercise around Taiwan with bombing and missile attacks on the main island, as Beijing said it had achieved its goal of intimidating “Taiwan independence forces”. and deter American intervention.
The People’s Liberation Army said on Sunday night that several groups of aircraft had been training for an “island attack campaign”, confirming an earlier statement by Taiwan’s defense ministry that waves of planes had simulated an attack on Taiwan. According to the defense ministry, 66 PLA aircraft operated in the area on Sunday, including 22 on the Taiwan side of the Taiwan Strait.
The drills, which Beijing has characterized as punishment for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, have sharply increased tensions across the Taiwan Strait and between China and the US.
The four-day maneuvers were unprecedented in scale and proximity to Taiwan, and included the People’s Liberation Army for the first time simulating an invasion attempt in the actual airspace and waters where such an attack would begin.
At 12:30 p.m., half an hour after all but one of China’s navigation warnings for the exercises expired, the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command said it was “continuing the joint exercises as planned” . The navigation warning for the last area closed to maneuvers, in the airspace and waters east of Taiwan, will expire at 2 a.m. this Monday.
Taiwanese defense officials said the country’s navy was patrolling its side of the median line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer that China has respected in the past but has repeatedly encroached on during the drills The officials added that the PLA ships had not stepped up provocations or attempted more dangerous maneuvers on Sunday.
On Saturday, 14 PLA planes flew across the median line, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry, after 12:30 on Friday and 12:00 on Thursday.
In another first, the PLA’s Rocket Force launched missiles that crossed Taiwan’s skies on Thursday, five of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The maneuvers had “created the conditions for the early realization of national unification and built a favorable strategic posture,” Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University of China, told state television on Sunday. He added that there had been several “advances”, including the deterrence of “Taiwan independence forces”. The PLA had also “completely obliterated the middle line of the Taiwan Strait.”
Air and sea traffic to and from Taiwan, which had been diverted by China’s live-fire drills, began to return to normal late Sunday, easing fears about the impact on global supply chains of a prolonged interruption of transport.
The country’s civil aviation and port authorities said flights and ships could gradually resume regular operations, with Taipei continuing to divert traffic only around a seventh of the exercise zones, east of Taiwan , until 10 am on Monday.
Tracking site Flightradar24 showed that flights between Taiwan’s main international airport and Japan had resumed direct routes as usual, after major diversions for more than three days.
China has accompanied its air, naval, missile, long-range artillery and cyber operations with muscular propaganda and information warfare.
Over the weekend, the PLA and state media released photos and videos of Taiwan’s coast and central mountain range as seen from the cockpit of a Chinese fighter jet, with commentary from a pilot expressing the pride of having approached “the treasure island of the motherland”.
The Eastern Theater Command also released images from the east coast of Taiwan. Taipei has traditionally seen the region as a safe retreat for its air and naval assets in the event of a Chinese assault, but it has been highlighted as a vulnerable flank by missile tests and a dramatic increase in Chinese naval activity in the last months
“Sailing in these waters. . . we feel a great responsibility and a glorious mission,” Li Ning, the political commissar of a Chinese frigate, said in a video broadcast by state CCTV showing the chimney of the Hoping Power Plant on Taiwan’s east coast, a critical pillar of the country. Power source. “One word, and we will bear the heavy burden without regard for our lives,” Li Ning added.
Nicholas Burns, the US ambassador to China, warned that China’s actions threatened the decades-old status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
“How [secretary of state Antony Blinken] said: “There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalated military response.” The world should hold Beijing accountable for keeping the peace.” Burns wrote on Twitter. The statement followed a series of calls for calm, including from the G7.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said a Chinese claim that its warships had entered Taiwan’s territorial waters off the east coast was false.
Taiwan began to retreat more strongly over the weekend. It said on Sunday that units operating its domestically developed Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles had been put on high alert and were monitoring Chinese warships. It added that it was sharing information about PLA movements detected by its Leshan early warning radar station, one of the largest in the world, with friendly governments.
Taiwanese diplomats in the US, Japan and Europe explained the country’s position in media interviews over the weekend and called for international support.
“This is another battleground between Taiwan and China,” said Wang Ting-yu, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, referring to dueling narratives about China’s military moves. With its military posture, China had transformed itself into an “international troublemaker”.
“There is no benefit for China in this,” he added.