Just three days after Taiwan's new president took office, China is launching military exercises around the island. US general expresses concern.

Taiwan's presidential palace in Taipei, where new president Lai Ching-te took office on Monday

Beijing feels challenged by power shift at Taiwan's presidential palace in Taipei because there is no change of course Photo: Annabelle Chih/Reuters

BEIJING afp/taz | A few days after the inauguration of the new Taiwanese president, Lai Ching-te, China began large-scale military exercises around the island. The two-day exercises involving naval ships and aircraft will be held in the Taiwan Strait and in the north, south and east of the island and are “punishment” for “separatist acts,” the colonel of Marina Li Xi. Taipei received harsh criticism and an American general expressed his concern.

In military exercises on Thursday and Friday, military aircraft and warships will surround Taiwan to test their combat capabilities, the military said. Military spokesman Li said the exercises would also be held on the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin. They are located directly opposite mainland China.

It was a “harsh punishment for the separatist actions of the 'Taiwan independence' forces” and a “strong warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” military spokesman Li said in a commentary on Chinese state television. CCTV over 'strong disciplinary action'. ”against Taiwanese separatism.

The Chinese military posted a series of posters showing missiles, planes and warships alongside blood-stained text. In one poster, rockets are fired at an island; in another, tanks appear from the sea. “The weapon aimed at 'Taiwan independence' to end 'independence' is already there,” he said.

Taiwan immediately reacted to China's announcement. From Taipei it was said that sea, air and land troops had been deployed to “defend freedom.” Taiwan's Defense Ministry strongly condemned China's “irrational provocations and actions that undermine peace and stability in the region.”

Taiwan calls China's moves “unilateral” and “provocative”

Presidential spokesperson Karen Kuo said it was “regrettable” that China was engaging in “unilateral and provocative military behavior” that threatened Taiwan's democracy and freedom, as well as regional peace and stability. “In the face of external challenges and threats, we will continue to defend democracy.”

US Indo-Pacific Command deputy commander Stephen Sklenka said Chinese military exercises were expected. “Just because we expect this behavior doesn't mean we shouldn't condemn it, and we should publicly condemn it. The People's Republic's actions are “concerning.”

China had described Taiwan's new president Lai as a “dangerous separatist” who would bring “war and decay” to the island. Lai said at his inauguration on Monday that Taiwan must demonstrate its “determination in defending the nation in the face of China's numerous threats and infiltration attempts.”

Military blockade of Taiwan as Beijing's option

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland, if necessary by military force. For several years, Beijing has periodically sent fighter jets and warships near the island. Since a direct military conquest of Taiwan is considered very costly for China, a blockade of the island to force political concessions is seen as a possible alternative.

China last announced similar military exercises in Taiwan in August 2023, after Lai, then vice president, stopped in the United States during a trip to Paraguay. In 2022, China held major military exercises after Nancy Pelosi, then speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan.

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