Updated May 23rd, 2024 at 16:37 IST

PLA's Eastern Theater Command Begins Intensive Military Drills Surrounding Taiwan

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) began joint military exercises encircling Taiwan, starting at 7:45 am on Thursday.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
China Drills | Image:Chinamil
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Beijing: The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) commenced joint military exercises encircling Taiwan on Thursday at 7:45 am local time. These drills, code-named Joint Sword-2024A, are taking place across the Taiwan Strait and in the northern, southern, and eastern regions surrounding Taiwan Island, as well as the Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin islands. 

Comprehensive military drills involve multiple branches of the PLA, including the army, navy, air force, and rocket force. Theater Command spokesperson Li Xi detailed that the exercises aim to enhance joint operational capabilities and test real combat readiness. The key components of the drills include: 

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  1. Joint Seizure of Comprehensive Battlefield Control: Coordination between various military branches to dominate the operational landscape. 
  2. Joint Sea-Air Combat-Readiness Patrols: Monitoring and securing maritime and aerial zones near Taiwan. 
  3. Joint Precision Strikes on Key Targets: Simulated attacks on strategic locations to assess strike accuracy and efficiency. 

Li emphasized that the drills feature close patrols by vessels and aircraft around Taiwan and integrated operations both inside and outside the island chain, demonstrating the PLA’s ability to conduct large-scale, coordinated military actions. 

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Drills act as Warning against Anti-China Dissent 

The PLA's exercises are not merely a display of military prowess but also serve as a direct message to both Taiwan and external actors. Li Xi underscored that the drills are a stern warning against separatist activities promoting "Taiwan independence" and an admonition to external forces against interference and provocation.

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The increased presence of Chinese military assets near Taiwan continues to elevate geopolitical tensions in the region. Taiwan has persistently voiced concerns about China's military maneuvers and its long-standing ambition to reunify Taiwan with the mainland, by force if necessary. 

Response from Taiwan 

On Wednesday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) reported the detection of seven People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels and four China Coast Guard (CCG) vessels operating around Taiwan up until 6 am. Taiwan's Armed Forces monitored the situation and took appropriate responsive measures.

In recent developments, Taiwan's newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te issued a firm call for Beijing to cease its political and military intimidation. In his inauguration speech, Lai appealed to China to collaborate with Taiwan in maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the broader region, emphasizing the global responsibility of avoiding the horrors of war. 

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The median line of the Taiwan Strait has traditionally served as an unofficial boundary between China and Taiwan. However, since former United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan in August 2022, China has more frequently deployed aircraft, warships, and drones across this line, escalating the region's military tension.

Lai Ching-te's recent inauguration marks the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) historic third consecutive term in office, highlighting Taiwan's firm stance against Beijing's aggressive posturing. The PLA's ongoing drills and the heightened military presence in the Taiwan Strait are closely watched by global powers. The United States and its allies have consistently expressed concerns over China's actions, reiterating their support for Taiwan's security and sovereignty. The international community remains vigilant as these exercises unfold, recognizing their potential implications for regional and global stability.  

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As Joint Sword-2024A progresses, the world observes with bated breath, understanding that the maneuvers around Taiwan are more than military exercises—they are a reflection of the intricate and volatile geopolitical landscape in the Asia-Pacific region. The actions and reactions in the coming days will be crucial in shaping the future dynamics between China, Taiwan, and the broader international community. 

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Published May 23rd, 2024 at 16:37 IST