Alwaght- China launched three days of military exercises around Taiwan amid anger in Beijing over Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting in California with the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
China, which considers Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its aims, will hold “combat readiness patrols” until April 10, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command said in a brief statement on Saturday.
The drills, dubbed United Sharp Sword, involve exercises in the Taiwan Strait to the north and south of the island as well as in the sea and airspace to its east.
“This is a serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces’ collusion and provocation, and it is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the PLA said.
Tsai met McCarthy on the return leg of a tour of the self-ruled island’s two remaining formal allies in Central America and arrived home on Friday.
Beijing had threatened retaliation even before the meeting took place. The Shandong aircraft carrier was spotted sailing through Taiwan’s southeastern waters on its way to the western Pacific hours before the meeting was scheduled on Wednesday.
On Friday, Beijing announced tightened sanctions against Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, and the Ronald Reagan Library where Tsai and McCarthy met, but held back from the more overt response that followed the visit to the island last August of McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi.
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On that occasion China staged days of war games around Taiwan, including firing missiles across the island.
Analysts said the initial more muted reaction to the Tsai-McCarthy meeting could have been because it took place in the US, or because it coincided with a visit to Beijing by French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The PLA drills began hours after Macron and von der Leyen, whose focus was the Ukraine crisis, had left.