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China ends military drills near Taiwan

May 25, 2024

China has announced the end of war games near Taiwan that it said aimed to test its ability to seize the island. Taipei called the drills a "blatant provocation to the international order."

 Chinese guided missile destroyer
Dozens of Chinese navy vessels were deployed during the drills, like this guided missile destroyerImage: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/AP/picture alliance

China said late on Friday that it had completed two days of military drills around Taiwan that have been widely seen as a further bid to intimidate the democratically governed island and its allies.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory, said the drills were a "punishment" for the recent inauguration speech by the island's new president, Lai Ching-te, an address denounced by China as a "confession of independence."

Taipei has slammed the military exercises, calling them a "unilateral provocation." 

What happened during the war games?

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said that 111 Chinese aircraft and dozens of naval vessels participated in the drills, which were named "Joint Sword-2024A."

The ministry said the aircraft included Su-30 fighters and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and had flown in the Taiwan Strait and into the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines. 

The exercises involved simulations of strikes targeting the island's leaders as well as its ports and airports, according to Chinese military analysts.

The drills aimed at testing the "capability of joint seizure of power, joint strikes and control of key territories," Li Xi, spokesman for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, said on Friday.

In recent years, China has been carrying out growing acts of intimidation against Taiwan, and has not ruled out using force to bring it under Beijing's control, something this week's exercises has underlined.

What has been the international reaction?

Taiwan itself has vehemently condemned China's actions.

"China's recent unilateral provocation not only undermines the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, but it is also a blatant provocation to the international order, triggering serious concern and condemnation from the international community," said a statement attributed to Taiwan's Presidential Office Spokesperson Karen Kuo.

The United Nations has called for all sides to avoid escalation, while the US has called on Beijing to act with restraint.

The island has been self-governed since 1949, when nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek fled there after being defeated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in a civil war.

tj/lo (AFP, Reuters)