Surprisingly, China has continued its maneuvers around Taiwan. State television reported that despite its initial announcement that the military exercises would only continue until Sunday, “combat exercises” continued in the air and at sea in the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army focused on “joint anti-submarine operations and attacks at sea”.
When the exercises were announced last Tuesday, China had originally promised to wrap up on Sunday. However, an official end has not been announced yet. Instead, some Chinese commentators have suggested that military exercises are taking place regularly and could become the new normal. Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian described Monday’s maneuvers as a “necessary warning” for the United States and Taiwan. It was an “appropriate” reaction to their “provocations”.
The tensions were “deliberate” by the US, with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveling to Taipei against Beijing’s opposition. The Chinese leadership rejects such official contacts from other countries to Taipei because it considers Taiwan part of the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan considers itself an independent country, but is recognized only by the Holy See and 13 other countries around the world. The United States does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is closely bound by the Taiwan Relations Act. Recently, US President Joe Biden assured the island nation that he wants to provide military assistance in the event of a possible attack by China.
Taiwan’s military reported that Chinese planes carried out 66 sorties on Sunday alone. Twenty-two of them are said to have crossed the unofficial, but by far the most respected, mid-line of the Taiwan Strait. 14 warships also participated in the maneuvers in the strait. A Chinese drone was seen again Sunday evening over the offshore island of Kinmen in Taiwan, just two kilometers from the Chinese coast, the Taipei Ministry of Defense said. There has been no Chinese overflights of the island since the 1950s.
With the current maneuvers, the People’s Liberation Army is not only exercising a sea and air blockade, but also a possible invasion of the island.