China flexes its military muscles in the Taiwan Strait almost every day. 21 Chinese military aircraft have now been spotted around Taiwan. Taiwan’s new president is demanding that Beijing put an end to the practice. Read more about the conflict between China and Taiwan in the ticker.

Tuesday, May 28, 4:17 p.m.: Taiwan’s opposition-controlled parliament has expanded a controversial law to the detriment of the government amid protests from thousands of opponents. Critics fear that with Tuesday’s decision, the pro-China parties are weakening democracy and the newly sworn-in government of President Lai Ching-te and thereby doing powerful neighbor China a favor. In concrete terms, the new resolutions will enable parliament to request more information from government agencies or military units, for example. “Parliament will become a platform for the leaking of secrets because Beijing can obtain key information through pro-China MPs,” criticized Kuo Kuo-wen of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

In addition, parliament will be given more power to question the president and to hear his report on the state of the nation more regularly. The drafts were put forward by the nationalist Chinese Kuomintang, which, along with the Taiwanese People’s Party, is considered to be particularly pro-Beijing. Its controversial ex-chief and Taiwan’s former president, Ma Ying-jeou, met China’s head of state and party, Xi Jinping, in Beijing in April and advocated more exchange between the communist People’s Republic and democratic Taiwan. The Chinese government sees the island republic as part of its territory and accuses Lai’s DPP of separatism because it stands for Taiwan’s independence. China recently intimidated Taiwan again with a major military maneuver.

Lai won the presidential election on January 13th, but the DPP lost its absolute majority in parliament, which now makes it much more difficult for it to govern because it needs votes from the opposition camp for its plans. Thousands of people demonstrated against the KMT’s plans in front of the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, on Tuesday. Researcher Wu Rwei-ren from the Institute for Taiwan History at Academia Sinica told the crowd that foreign observers assumed that the opposition-controlled parliament was seeking a reorganization of power.

The opposition had previously tried to rush draft laws through parliament. “I cannot tolerate irresponsible parliamentarians skipping the process of evaluating the draft section by section,” a demonstrator told the German Press Agency outside parliament. “I am so worried about a gradual erosion of democracy and freedom.”

10:59 a.m.: After the Chinese military’s blockade exercise off Taiwan, a US delegation has assured the democratic island republic of American support. “The United States stands firmly by Taiwan’s side,” said Republican Michael McCaul on Monday in Taipei. He does not see Washington’s support wavering in the future, said McCaul with a view to the US election this year. Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te said the visit by Democrats and Republicans from the US Congress as part of an Indo-Pacific trip demonstrates strong support for Taiwan’s new government and people.

The group arrived in the East Asian island republic on Sunday – shortly after a large-scale exercise by the People’s Liberation Army. Beijing reacted angrily to the US representatives’ trip. With their visit, the politicians had violated the US government’s promise to maintain only unofficial relations with Taiwan, said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning. The visit sent the wrong signal to Taiwan’s “independence forces”. Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. McCaul says he was warned in advance by China not to travel to Taiwan because, from Beijing’s perspective, this violates the one-China policy.

Monday, May 27, 2024, 7:19 a.m.: Taiwan says it has again spotted dozens of Chinese military aircraft and ships near the island. 21 aircraft and 15 ships from the navy and coast guard were spotted in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Defense in Taipei announced on Monday. Ten aircraft entered Taiwan’s air surveillance zone.

China held a two-day major exercise near Taiwan last week. According to Taipei, China deployed 111 aircraft and dozens of naval vessels in its show of force.

Taiwan seceded from communist mainland China at the end of the civil war 75 years ago. Since then, Beijing has viewed the island as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland – by military force if necessary.

Since 2016, China has massively increased political and military pressure on Taiwan and sends fighter jets and warships near the island almost every day, even outside of maneuvers.

Thursday, May 23, 2024, 7:00 a.m.: A few days after the inauguration of the new president in Taiwan, China has announced a large-scale military exercise around the East Asian island republic. “This is also a harsh punishment for the separatist forces of Taiwan’s independence and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” said the spokesman for the Eastern Association of the People’s Liberation Army, Marine Colonel Li Xi, on Thursday. The army, navy, air force and missile forces would hold exercises on Thursday and Friday in the strait between China and Taiwan (Taiwan Strait), which is around 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point, and around Taiwan. The exercise is likely to be the largest in about a year.

According to the information, the military wants to train joint combat readiness at sea and in the air as well as attacks on key targets. Ships and aircraft would approach Taiwan from the north and south for “patrols” and also approach several islands, such as the island of Kinmen, which is only a few kilometers from the Chinese mainland.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry condemned the military exercise as an “irrational provocation” that endangers peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The armed forces on land, sea and in the air were deployed to defend “freedom and democracy with practical actions,” Taipei said. The ministry did not provide any further details about the measures.

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, although independent and democratically elected governments have been in power there for decades. The leadership in Beijing has threatened several times to use military force to unite the island, which has a population of more than 23 million, and the mainland. In addition to regular exercises by the armed forces, fighter jets fly towards Taiwan almost every day to demonstrate the military power of the People’s Liberation Army.

The background to the exercise now announced is likely to be the inauguration of the newly elected Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Monday. His Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in January and supports Taiwan’s independence. The ruling Communist Party in Beijing accuses the DPP of separatism.

The warning is also likely to apply to Taiwan’s allies, particularly the United States, which has promised the island republic support in the event of a defense and regularly supplies it with weapons, much to Beijing’s annoyance.

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