Taiwan Scrambles Jets and Puts Missile, Naval and Land Units on Alert Over China's Military Drills

Taiwan scrambled combat jets to warn away 39 Chinese aircraft that entered its southeastern air defense zone. (Reuters file photo)
Taiwan scrambled combat jets to warn away 39 Chinese aircraft that entered its southeastern air defense zone. (Reuters file photo)
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Taiwan Scrambles Jets and Puts Missile, Naval and Land Units on Alert Over China's Military Drills

Taiwan scrambled combat jets to warn away 39 Chinese aircraft that entered its southeastern air defense zone. (Reuters file photo)
Taiwan scrambled combat jets to warn away 39 Chinese aircraft that entered its southeastern air defense zone. (Reuters file photo)

Taiwan scrambled jets and put missile, naval and land units on alert Thursday over Chinese military exercises being conducted around the self-governing island democracy where a new president took office this week.
China’s military said its two-day exercises around Taiwan were punishment for separatist forces seeking independence. Beijing claims the island is part of China’s national territory and the People’s Liberation Army sends navy ships and warplanes into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island almost daily to wear down Taiwan’s defenses and seek to intimidate its people, who firmly back their de facto independence, The Associated Press said.
China’s “irrational provocation has jeopardized regional peace and stability," the island's Defense Ministry said. It said Taiwan will seek no conflicts but “will not shy away from one.
“This pretext for conducting military exercises not only does not contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but also shows its hegemonic nature at heart," the ministry's statement said.
In his inauguration address on Monday, Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te called for Beijing to stop its military intimidation and pledged to “neither yield nor provoke” the mainland Communist Party leadership.
Lai has said he seeks dialogue with Beijing while maintaining Taiwan’s current status and avoiding conflicts that could draw in the island's chief ally the US and other regional partners such as Japan and Australia.
The People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command said the land, navy and air exercises around Taiwan are meant to test the navy and air capabilities of the PLA units, as well as their joint strike abilities to hit targets and win control of the battlefield, the command said on its official Weibo account.
“This is also a powerful punishment for the separatist forces seeking ‘independence’ and a serious warning to external forces for interference and provocation,” the statement said.
The PLA also released a map of the intended exercise area, which surrounds Taiwan's main island at five different points, as well as places like Matsu and Kinmen, outlying islands that are closer to the Chinese mainland than Taiwan.
China's coast guard also said in a statement that it organized a fleet to carry out law enforcement drills near two islands close to the Taiwanese-controlled island groups of Kinmen and Matsu just off the Chinese coast.
While China has termed the exercises as punishment for Taiwan's election result, the Democratic Progressive Party has now run the island’s government for more than a decade, although the pro-China Nationalist Party took a one-seat majority in the parliament.
Speaking in Australia, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Stephen Sklenka, the deputy commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, called on Asia-Pacific nations to condemn the Chinese military exercises.
“There’s no surprise whenever there’s an action that highlights Taiwan in the international sphere the Chinese feel compelled to make some kind of form of statement,” Sklenka told the National Press Club of Australia in the capital Canberra, in a reference to Monday's presidential inauguration.
“Just because we expect that behavior doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t condemn it, and we need to condemn it publicly. And it needs to come from us, but it also needs to come, I believe, from nations in the region. It’s one thing when the United States condemns the Chinese, but it has a far more powerful effect, I believe, when it comes from nations within this region,” Sklenka added.
Japan's top envoy weighed in while visiting the US, saying Japan and Taiwan share values and principles, including freedom, democracy, basic rights and rule of law.
“(Taiwan) is our extremely important partner that we have close economic relations and exchanges of people, and is our precious friend,” Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters in Washington, where she held talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
She said the two ministers discussed Taiwan and the importance of the Taiwan Strait, one of the world's most important waterways for shipping, remaining peaceful.



US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
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US, Ukraine Ink 10-year Defense Agreement

US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)
US President Joe Biden attends a flags ceremony with paratroopers at Borgo Egnazia Golf Club San Domenico during the G7 Summit hosted by Italy in Apulia region, on June 13, 2024 in Savelletri. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

US President Joe Biden and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a 10-year bilateral security agreement on Thursday aimed at bolstering Ukraine's defense against Russian invaders.

The agreement, signed on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy, is meant to be a step towards Ukraine's eventual NATO membership, according to the text of the deal.

"The parties recognize this agreement as supporting a bridge to Ukraine’s eventual membership in the NATO alliance," the text says, according to Reuters.

Zelenskiy has long sought NATO membership but the allies have stopped short of taking that step. The Western alliance regards any attack launched on one of its 32 members as an attack on all under its Article Five clause.

In the event of an armed attack or threat of such against Ukraine, top US and Ukrainian officials will meet within 24 hours to consult on a response and determine what additional defense needs are required for Ukraine, the agreement says.

Under the agreement, the United States restates its support for Ukraine's defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, amid a renewed push by Russia on Ukraine's eastern front.

"To ensure Ukraine’s security, both sides recognize Ukraine needs a significant military force, robust capabilities, and sustained investments in its defense industrial base that are consistent with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)standards," the text says.

"The United States intends to provide long-term materiel, training and advising, sustainment, intelligence, security, defense industrial, institutional, and other support to develop Ukrainian security and defense forces that are capable of defending a sovereign, independent, democratic Ukraine and deterring future aggression," it says.