China has started three days of military exercises around Taiwan after the island democracy’s president met the US House Speaker in defiance of Beijing’s warning.
The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command announced the drills Saturday, describing them as “a serious warning against the Taiwan separatist forces’ collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The exercises, dubbed “United Sharp Sword,” would feature “combat ready patrols and exercises in and around the Taiwan Strait, and to the north, south and east of Taiwan and the sea and airspace as planned,” Senior Colonel Shi Yi of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said.
The drills would focus on the country’s “capabilities to seize control of sea, air and information under the support of our joint combat system,” said the PLA.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected a total of 42 Chinese warplanes over the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the Chinese mainland, shortly after the Chinese military’s announcement.
It said 29 Chinese warplanes had crossed the median line in the strait into its air defense identification zone and eight PLA vessels had been spotted in the strait.
The drills come a day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a 10-day visit to Central America and the United States where she met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Beijing had repeatedly warned against the trip and had previously threatened to take “strong and resolute measures” if it went ahead.