He China Army Eastern Operations Command started this Saturday combined military maneuvers around Taiwan in response to the meeting held this week by the island’s president Tsai Ing Wen with the president of the United States House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, what Beijing viewed as an affront to its claims to the territory.
Throughout this weekend and until next Monday, the units of the chinese army will effect artillery exercises, naval and air deployments, and mock missile launches that “they will surround the island of Taiwan from four directions”, as explained by the spokesman for the Eastern Command, colonel shi yito the Chinese state daily Global Times.
The spokesman confirmed that these exercises are intended to send a “stern message” against the “secessionist forces that demand Taiwanese independence and its”collusion with outside forces” in a “necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
These drills are practically equivalent to the dress rehearsal of a blockade on the island; a stage designed for prevent both the deployment of Taiwanese forces and outside interference, according to the military expert Song Zhongping, consulted by the same media.
The military exercises that began this Saturday are divided into two phases. The first consists of the deployment of patrols on combat alert such as those that have been flying over the Taiwan Strait for months and often briefly cross the so-called “Davis line” which splits the strait in two and is considered the beginning of the Taiwan security zone.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense detected this saturday at least 42 combat aircraft and eight warshipsand confirmed that 29 of those planes entered their air defense space in the north, center and south of the island.
The second part of the drill consists of the development of the aforementioned joint exercisesin which Fighter planes and warships “will surround the island while executing actual combat-oriented drills,” according to other military experts, this time on condition of anonymity, to the Chinese newspaper.
The exercises will culminate on Monday with a live fire drill off the coast of Pingtan, Chinese province of Fujian and only 130 kilometers from Taiwanunder a special military alert for a drill declared by the East China Maritime Safety Administration.
Although the combined exercises will end on Monday, the agency has issued additional alerts for live-fire drills until April 20 off the coast of Fuzhou, about 90 kilometers north of Pingtan.
(With information from Europa Press)
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