Home Asia Taiwan To Install New President On May 20, Chinese Military Drills Anticipated

Taiwan To Install New President On May 20, Chinese Military Drills Anticipated

Taiwan President-elect Lai Ching-te waves during a press conference where incoming cabinet members are announced, in Taipei, Taiwan April 25, 2024. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Taiwan’s leading security official warned on Wednesday that the island is preparing for potential military exercises by China following the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Lai Ching-te. He noted that China has already started employing unconventional tactics. China considers Taiwan, which is democratically governed, part of its territory and has a particular aversion to Lai, whom it views as a significant separatist threat. The Chinese government has consistently declined his repeated invitations for dialogue, including a recent proposal last week.

Lai, like current President Tsai Ing-wen, rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims; both say only the island’s people can decide their future. Lai, now vice president, will be inaugurated on May 20.

Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait was in the interests of everyone in the international community, including China.

China is currently using a carrot-and-stick approach toward Taiwan, hoping to influence the incoming government’s China policy, added Tsai, who shares a common family name with the president but is not related to her.

“What needs special attention is that following May 20, from June to November, is when the Chinese Communists hold their regular military drills,” he said. “Whether the Chinese Communists use this hot season as an excuse to carry out some military drills to further pressure Taiwan is a key point the National Security Bureau is focusing on.

China’s defence ministry did not answer calls seeking comment outside of office hours on Wednesday, the start of the Labour Day holiday.

China’s military has during the past four years massively increased its activities around Taiwan.


Taking lawmaker questions, Tsai said China had been observed three times so far this year carrying out “joint combat readiness patrols” at night, something he described as a new development.

Nitin A Gokhale WhatsApp Channel

“In addition, inflight refuelling aircraft are being used during the joint combat readiness patrols” to extend the time combat aircraft can remain in the air, Tsai said.

Landing ships and minesweepers have also been observed joining these patrols, he added.

“These are new patterns for this year.”

Taiwan’s defence ministry last reported a Chinese combat readiness patrol, where warships and warplanes operate together in the skies and waters near Taiwan, on Saturday.

In 2022, China carried out major war games near Taiwan after a visit to Taipei by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and again last year after President Tsai met then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on a stopover in California.

Taiwan-based security sources have repeatedly warned China could show their displeasure with Lai using the military.

Since Lai’s electoral win in January, China has maintained consistent pressure on Taiwan. This includes deploying coast guard patrols near Taiwanese-controlled islands close to the Chinese mainland and initiating new air routes in the Taiwan Strait, which Taipei considers a threat to aviation safety. However, Beijing has also proposed resuming Chinese tourism to Taiwan, albeit in a limited capacity. The government in Taipei is currently evaluating this offer, as it seeks a complete restoration of visits by Chinese tourists.

(With Inputs From Reuters)