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China rehearses Taiwan blockade as US deploys destroyer

April 10, 2023

Military drills near Taiwan concluded with Chinese forces carrying out simulated aerial and naval blockades.

A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands
China's military said its forces simulated naval and aerial blockades of Taiwan on the third day of drillsImage: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Taiwan criticized China for damaging "peace and stability" in the region after Beijing ended three days of large-scale military drills on Monday.

China "wilfully uses military exercises to undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said.

China launched drill as 'warning' 

China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, said it concluded its military maneuvers near the self-ruled island.

"It is a serious warning about the provocative activities of Taiwan's separatist independence forces and their collusion with foreign forces," China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said. 

The last day of the drills included exercises simulating "sealing off" the island nation, and that one of China's two aircraft carriers — the Shandong — also "participated in today's exercise."

Chinese state television reported that aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with missiles, and warships performed drills to "form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation."

Taiwan detects Chinese warships, jets

Taiwan's Defense Ministry said that as of 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) it detected 12 Chinese warships and 91 aircraft.     

"Although [China's] Eastern Theatre Command has announced the end of its exercise, the military will never relax its efforts to strengthen its combat readiness," the Taiwanese ministry said in a statement.

Earlier on Monday, the ministry said that it had registered 70 PLA aircraft and 11 Chinese naval vessels from China's military by 6 a.m. (2200 GMT), and said its armed forces were monitoring the situation closely.

Taiwan's military said that 35 of the detected aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

US naval destroyer patrolling

Meanwhile, the United States deployed a naval destroyer into waters claimed by Beijing, a move that elicited an angry response from China's military.

"Missile destroyer USS Milius illegally intruded into the waters adjacent to the Meiji Reef in China's Nansha Islands without the approval of the Chinese government," spokesman for the Chinese military's Southern Theater Command, Tian Junli said in a statement.

He went on to say that Beijing's air force "followed and carried out surveillance of the vessel."

The US Navy said its guided-missile destroyer had conducted a navigational rights operation and was consistent with international law.

"This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea," the US Navy said in a statement.

China surrounds Taiwan with military exercises

Drills in response to Taiwanese leader's US meeting

China launched the drills dubbed "United Sharp Sword" in response to last week's meeting between Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen and US House speaker Kevin McCarthy and said it was a "stern warning."

The meeting took place after Tsai stopped in California on her way home, having completed a trip to Central America. 

Beijing considers the democratically self-governed island of Taiwan as its own and has threatened to take it by force.

Washington has no formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, however, the US is also Taiwan's most significant political and military backer.

lo,kb/rc,fb (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Taiwan leader's US trip raises tensions with China