(Pingtan) China is holding live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait on Monday, the third day of a “total encirclement” exercise to protest its president’s meeting with a senior US official.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected 11 Chinese warships and 59 aircraft around the island on Monday, as Beijing is due to hold live-fire drills to wrap up three days of military maneuvers.

The Chinese military “continues to conduct military exercises around Taiwan,” the ministry said, adding that fighter jets and bombers were among the aircraft spotted at 10 a.m. local time (10 p.m. ET).

During the weekend, fighter jets and warships had simulated targeted bombings against the island, as part of this operation dubbed “Joint Sword” and denounced by Taiwan. The United States called on Beijing to “restrain”.

The goal? Simulate a “total encirclement” of the territory of 23 million people claimed by Beijing.

China has sent planes, ships and troops into “sea and airspace” all around the island, the military said.

Something to worry about: “We ordinary people just want a simple and stable life,” Lin Ke-qiang, a 60-year-old resident of Beigan Island in the Matsu archipelago, told AFP. , which belongs to 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 the man, who works as a cook.

On Sunday, the Chinese military simulated “precision strikes” against “key targets on the island of Taiwan and surrounding waters,” involving dozens of aircraft and ground troops, according to state television. State, stating that this deployment “will continue to maintain a close encirclement of the island”.

The air force also sent dozens of aircraft to “fly over the target airspace” and, on the ground, the army launched maneuvers for “precision fire at several targets”, according to the same source.

On Saturday, President 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.” .

The Chinese maneuvers were launched after a meeting last Wednesday in California of the president with the speaker of the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy.

The US State Department reiterated its call on Saturday “not to change the status quo”, while the Pentagon said it was “monitoring events closely”.

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.

And it sees Taiwan as a province it has yet to successfully reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. It aims for that reunification, by force if necessary.

Monday’s live-fire exercises will be held in the Taiwan Strait near the coast of Fujian (east), the province facing the island, according to local Chinese maritime authorities. It is located 80 kilometers south of the Matsu Archipelago and 190 kilometers from Taipei.

According to the same source, they will be conducted between 7:00 a.m. (7:00 p.m. EST, Sunday) and 8:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. EST, Monday), around Pingtan, an island which is the highest point close between China and Taiwan.

The maneuvers “serve as a serious warning against collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and outside forces, as well as their provocative activities,” warned Chinese military spokesman Shi Yi.

Early Monday, an AFP team on site in Pingtan saw no increased military activity. A small number of fishing boats and transport vessels were visible from the coast, but more distant vessels were not identifiable with the naked eye.

On Sunday, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said it had detected 11 Chinese warships and 70 aircraft around the island, an armada broadly similar to that recorded on Saturday.

He said 45 aircraft crossed the median line between Taiwan and mainland China on Saturday, the highest number since the start of the year, according to data compiled by AFP.

Over the weekend, the ministry detected about 150 Chinese boats and aircraft, including fighter jets, drones, bombers and transport vehicles.

The last major deployment around the island took place last 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 bedroom.