China Escalates Military Drills Near Taiwan 

April 10, 2023

China on Monday was conducting large-scale military drills that simulated sealing off the island of Taiwan.

The exercises began last week in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting in California with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). On Thursday, China deployed three warships, several coastguard vessels and an anti-submarine helicopter near Taiwan.

Since then, deployment has escalated to include several dozen warships. China also reportedly appears to have simulated strikes by aircraft carrier-based warplanes on Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense reported on Monday that during the past 24 hours Chinese fighter jets had crossed the southeastern section of the island’s air defense identification zones. 

Meanwhile, Japan said Monday that the Chinese navy has conducted 120 flight sorties from an aircraft carrier over the previous three days.

Japan scrambled Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets in response, the Japan Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The Chinese military had earlier announced three days of “combat readiness patrols” called Joint Sword, making good on a threat before President Tsai met with Speaker McCarthy that China would undertake “resolute countermeasures” if the duo went through with their planned meeting. China had said it would view the meeting as “another provocation that seriously violates the one-China principle.” 

Tsai and McCarthy met anyway, at the Reagan Library in Southern California. They were joined by a bipartisan group of 17 other House lawmakers. 

China claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as its own territory, and in recent months has been saber-rattling against its neighbor, situated just 100 miles off the Chinese coast. Analysts say that China has been watching and waiting to see how Russia fares in its invasion of Ukraine before going forth with an assault against Taiwan. 

In addition to the stepped up military drills, China has imposed sanctions on the Reagan Library and other institutions and people related to Tsai’s trip to the U.S., which included a stop in New York City.

China also undertook a military blockade against Taiwan last summer in response to a visit to the island by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Taiwan’s Foreign Minister had asserted at the time that the Chinese blockade was a “game plan” for invasion.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet said its guided-missile destroyer Milius sailed close to the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday to assert freedom of navigation. It’s the second such U.S. movement in that area in fewer than three weeks. China has blasted that operation as “illegal” and claimed its navy “shadowed the ship and kept on alert with naval and air forces all the way.”

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