Taiwanese defense officials say China is continuing intense military activity in the skies and waters around the disputed island.
Live-fire military drills conducted by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were due to end on August 8. However, Beijing announced the same day that the drills would continue.
The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command says in a statement that the renewed maneuvers will focus on “anti-submarine warfare and maritime assault operations”, areas that would be critical to any invasion of the self-governing island. claimed by Beijing.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) reports that on the day the Chinese exercises were due to end, some 40 PLA planes were detected in the skies surrounding the island. 45 Chinese military jets were seen the following day, August 9, according to the MND.
Taiwan-owned Boeing F-16Vs armed with Raytheon AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range air-to-air missiles were dispatched to intercept the PLA sorties, according to the MND.
Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s foreign minister, speaking in Taipei on August 9, denounced the Beijing drills, describing them as a rehearsal for a military invasion.
The Chinese Communist Party has made reunification with Taiwan, which has been politically independent from mainland China since 1949, a national strategic goal.
“It’s very worrying,” Wu said. However, the Taiwanese foreign minister took a defiant tone, saying, “We are not sacred by China.
On the other side of the island, the Taiwanese army has launched its own series of military exercises aimed at defending against an amphibious invasion. These exercises were already planned before the recent Chinese action, but now take on a new urgency for the democratic government in Taipei.
The state-run Central News Agency (CNA) reports that the drills in southern Taiwan will test the army’s combat readiness in response to recent Chinese military activity. These maneuvers should end after August 11, according to the CNA.
Separate military drills are planned by Taiwan in September to test the ability of the army’s air forces, including Bell AH-1W Super Cobra and Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to support ground forces, a source says. anonymous government quoted by CNA.
In May, Taiwan conducted live-fire missile exercises, including the launch of Sky Bow surface-to-air missiles, a domestic construction platform developed with the help of the American Raytheon.
According to the military news agency, this live-fire missile training included the Taiwan Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard to demonstrate “their determination to defend the security of the Taiwan Strait”.
While a senior US defense official said on August 8 that the Pentagon did not believe a PLA invasion of Taiwan was imminent, Foreign Minister Wu sounded the alarm bells in Taipei on the following day.
“[It] gives us a clear picture of China’s geostrategic ambition beyond Taiwan,” Wu said. “China’s real intention beyond these military exercises is to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and throughout the region.”