(Pingtan) The Chinese army said on Monday that it had “successfully completed” its military maneuvers aimed at encircling the autonomous island of Taiwan for three days, which Beijing claims as a province of China.
From April 8 to 10, the Chinese military command “successfully completed various tasks ” of military preparation “ around the island of Taiwan with the “Joint Sword” exercise ”, the army said in a message broadcast on the social networks.
It “extensively tested its joint combat capability” in real conditions, “added the Chinese command.
Denounced by Taiwan and the United States which called for “ restraint ” while deploying a destroyer in waters claimed by Beijing, these maneuvers which mobilized a dozen warships and up to around 70 aircraft received a explicit political support from Russia.
“China has the sovereign right to react (to) provocative actions” by the United States, “particularly by conducting maneuvers”, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the press.
Started on Saturday, the Chinese maneuvers were aimed at protesting against a meeting Wednesday of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen with the Speaker of the American House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy.
Objective ? Simulate a “closure” of the territory of 23 million inhabitants claimed by Beijing, explained the Chinese army. And in particular an “air blockade”, according to state television CCTV.
“ Taiwan independence and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are mutually exclusive ”, said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a regular briefing, deeming it necessary to ” firmly oppose any form of separatism for the independence of Taiwan”.
The Army’s Eastern Theater Command clarified that Shandong, one of China’s two aircraft carriers, “participated in today’s exercise”.
During the maneuvers, fighter jets and warships simulated targeted bombardments against the island.
The United States also seemed to want to make a show of force: the American destroyer USS Milius carried out a “ freedom of navigation operation ” on Monday in an area of the South China Sea claimed by Beijing. An “intrusion” immediately denounced by China.
Japan said it had launched fighter jets in recent days in response to those taking off and landing from the aircraft carrier Shandong.
In a video posted Monday on the WeChat account of the Army’s Eastern Theater Command, a Chinese pilot says he “arrived near the northern part of the island of Taiwan” with missiles “locked in place”.
In another video, set to dramatic music, an officer’s whistle causes military personnel to race into position as a mock barrage over Taiwan appears on screen.
Something to worry the population: “ We ordinary people, we just want a simple and stable life”, confided to AFP Lin Ke-qiang, 60-year-old resident of Beigan Island in the Matsu archipelago which belongs to in Taiwan, but is visible from the Chinese coast.
“ If a war comes, now that their missiles are so advanced, we have no chance of resisting, we will be crushed ”, adds this man who works as a cook.
On Saturday, Tsai Ing-wen denounced China’s “authoritarian expansionism” and assured that Taiwan “would continue to work with the United States and other countries […] to uphold the values of freedom and democracy”.
China views with displeasure the rapprochement in recent years between the Taiwanese authorities and the United States which, despite the absence of official relations, provides the island with substantial military support.
It considers Taiwan as a province that it has not yet managed to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing aims for this reunification by force if necessary.
Monday’s live-fire exercises were planned in the Taiwan Strait near the coast of Fujian (east), the province facing the island, according to local Chinese maritime authorities.
The maneuvers “serve as serious warnings against collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and outside forces, as well as their provocative activities,” warned Chinese military spokesman Shi Yi.
The last major deployment around the island was in August, when China engaged in unprecedented military maneuvers around Taiwan and fired missiles in response to a visit to the island by Democrat Nancy Pelosi, then president of the Bedroom.