China has completed three days of military exercises around Taiwan, saying that it had tested integrated military capabilities under actual combat conditions. The exercises involved precision strikes and blockading the island, which Beijing views as its own. The drills were announced on Saturday, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei following a meeting in Los Angeles with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. Taiwan’s government strongly disputes China’s claims and has denounced the drills.
The Chinese military said it had “successfully completed” the exercises and “comprehensively tested” the capabilities of multiple units under actual combat conditions. The Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said in a statement that “the troops in the theatre are ready to fight all the time and can fight at any time, resolutely crushing any form of Taiwan independence separatism and foreign interference.” Chinese state television said earlier on Monday that aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles, and warships staged drills to “form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation”. The Eastern Theatre Command said the Shandong aircraft carrier had also taken part in combat patrols, and it showed fighters taking off from its deck.
Taiwan’s defence ministry published a map on Monday of the previous 24 hours of Chinese air force activities, showing four carrier-based Chinese J-15 fighters operating over the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan’s east. The ministry said that as of mid-morning on Monday it had spotted 59 military aircraft and 11 ships around Taiwan, and that the Shandong carrier group was conducting drills in the Western Pacific.
The Shandong conducted air operations in waters close to Japan’s Okinawan islands on Sunday, Japan’s defence ministry said on Monday. Japan has been following China’s military drills around Taiwan “with great interest”. Japan has long worried about China’s military activities in the area given how close southern Japanese islands are to Taiwan.
The European Union also expressed concern on Monday, saying Taiwan’s status should not be changed by force as any escalation, accident or use of force there would have huge global implications. The United States has said it is watching China’s drills closely.
China’s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in the second day of drills around the island on Sunday. The Eastern Theatre Command on Monday released a short video on its WeChat account showing an H-6 bomber flying in what it said was the skies north of Taiwan. Taiwan’s military has repeatedly said it will respond calmly to China’s drills and not provoke conflict.
Life in Taiwan has continued normally with no signs of panic or disruption, and civilian flights operating as usual. Taiwan’s stock market brushed off the tension, with the benchmark index closing up 0.3% on Monday. However, China’s blue-chip CSI300 Index fell 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.4% as the drills curbed investors’ risk appetite.