China Escalates Military Drills Around Taiwan, Simulates Missile Strikes and Naval Attacks


China intensified its military drills around Taiwan on Friday, conducting mock missile strikes and bombing runs targeting the island, along with simulated attacks on foreign ships that might assist Taiwan.

The initial day of China’s military exercise, referred to by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as “punishment” for Taiwan electing “separatist” President William Lai Ching-te, was relatively less aggressive. Although there was a significant amount of belligerent rhetoric from Beijing, Taiwanese officials noted that the PLA’s activities were not unprecedented and were less extensive compared to the military maneuvers China conducted after former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August 2022.


President-elect from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Lai Ching-te speaks to supporters at a rally on January 13, 2024, in Taipei, Taiwan. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

The second day of the exercise was more provocative, with Chinese bombers in attack formations and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships practicing the seizure of Taiwan-controlled islands near the Chinese coast.

Taiwanese security officials reported that the PLAN also rehearsed attacks on foreign vessels near Taiwan and harassed civilian ships using coast guard vessels.

On Friday, the PLA released an animated video depicting Chinese missiles destroying the Taiwanese cities of Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Hualien — hypothetical attacks that would result in massive casualties. The video labeled the missiles as “sacred weapons to kill independence,” a phrase the PLA appears to favor.

Taiwan’s defense ministry reported on Friday that it monitored 49 Chinese warplanes, 19 PLAN warships, and seven coast guard vessels, noting that the scale of the exercise remained smaller compared to the 2022 drills following Pelosi’s visit.

“As soon as the leader of Taiwan took office, he challenged the one-China principle and blatantly promoted the ‘two-state theory,’” complained China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, referring to President Lai’s inaugural address.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin dismissively rejected U.S. advice to exercise restraint around Taiwan:

The U.S. is in no position to point its fingers at China. The tensions in the Taiwan Strait are caused by the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] authorities’ attempt to solicit U.S. support for Taiwan independence and the attempt of some in the US to use Taiwan to contain China in the name of regional peace and stability.

“Anyone who supports Taiwan independence will get burned for playing with fire. Nothing will deter China from upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang asserted. “We will do anything necessary to thwart any attempt for Taiwan independence.”

John Hayward
John Hayward
I'm a conservative because there is so much about the American tradition that is worth conserving.

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