Home China China War Drills Showcase Rapid Mililtary Response, Says Taiwan

China War Drills Showcase Rapid Mililtary Response, Says Taiwan

FILE PHOTO: Chinese warship Luyang III sails near the U.S. destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, as seen from the deck of U.S. destroyer, in the Taiwan Strait, June 3, 2023, in this handout picture. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andre T. Richard/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT/File Photo

Taiwan’s top security official commented on Wednesday that China’s recent military drills were primarily aimed at propaganda and intimidation rather than initiating conflict. However, these exercises demonstrated China’s capability for rapid military response.

China has stated that the two-day war games, which began last Thursday, were in retaliation for statements made by Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te during his inauguration. In his speech, President Lai asserted that Taiwan and China were not subordinate to one another, a stance that China interpreted as an assertion of Taiwan being a separate nation.

China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.

Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China’s drills was not to go to war.

“The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate,” he said.

The drills were meant to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing “has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait”, Tsai added.

Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan’s formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.

The drills were a “just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, she said.

“As Taiwan’s provocations for independence continue, the People’s Liberation Army’s actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue.”

The government in Taipei asserts that Taiwan is already an independent nation known as the Republic of China. This declaration dates back to 1949 when the Republican government retreated to Taiwan following their defeat in the civil war against Mao Zedong’s Communists, who then established the People’s Republic of China.

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China says any decisions on Taiwan’s future are for all of China’s 1.4 billion people to make, not only Taiwan’s 23 million, and has offered a Hong Kong-style “one country, two systems” autonomy model, though that has almost no public support on the island, according to opinion polls.

“Different systems are not an obstacle to reunification, let alone an excuse for separation,” Zhu said.

China has never explained how it would integrate Taiwan’s vibrant democracy and direct election of its leaders into any plan to govern the island.

China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.

But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai’s bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.

“The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait’s status quo,” it said.

Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilised almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.

“The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilisation capabilities,” he said.

With Inputs From Reuters