China Launches 'Punishment' War Games around Taiwan

A screen showing Chinese maneuvers around Taiwan on a street in Beijing (EPA)
A screen showing Chinese maneuvers around Taiwan on a street in Beijing (EPA)
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China Launches 'Punishment' War Games around Taiwan

A screen showing Chinese maneuvers around Taiwan on a street in Beijing (EPA)
A screen showing Chinese maneuvers around Taiwan on a street in Beijing (EPA)

China launched "punishment" drills around Taiwan on Thursday in what it said was a response to "separatist acts", sending up heavily armed warplanes and staging mock attacks as state media denounced newly inaugurated President Lai Ching-te.

The exercises in the Taiwan Strait and around groups of Taiwan-controlled islands beside the Chinese coast come just three days after Lai took office, Reuters reported.

China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and denounces Lai as a "separatist", decried his inauguration speech on Monday, in which he urged Beijing to stop its threats and said the two sides of the strait were "not subordinate to each other".

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Lai "disgraceful".

Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed. He says only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and rejects Beijing's sovereignty claims.

The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) said it had started joint military drills, involving the army, navy, air force and rocket force, in areas around Taiwan at 7:45 a.m. (2345 GMT).

The drills are being held in the Taiwan Strait, the north, south and east of Taiwan, as well as areas around the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, the command said in a statement, the first time China's exercises have included areas round these islands.

China launched military drills around Taiwan on May 23, sending up heavily armed warplanes and staging mock attacks.

State media said China sent out dozens of fighter jets carrying live missiles, and conducted mock strikes, along with warships, of high-value military targets.

Taiwan's defense ministry said 15 Chinese navy ships, 16 coast guard and 33 aircraft were involved, but no live fire drills were held in any areas close to Taiwan.

The drills, dubbed "Joint Sword - 2024A", are set to run for two days. However, unlike a similar "Joint Sword" exercise in April last year, these drills are tagged "A", opening the door to potential follow-ups.

Taiwan's defense ministry said it had sent forces to areas around the island, with its air defenses and land-based missile forces tracking targets. It said it was confident it could protect its territory.

"The launch of military exercises on this occasion not only does not contribute to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, it also highlights (China's) militaristic mentality," the ministry said.

The U.S. State and Defense departments put out identical statements strongly urging Beijing to act with restraint and saying it should not use Taiwan's political transition as a "pretext or excuse for provocative or coercive measures."

"(China's) actions risk escalation and erode longstanding norms that have maintained regional peace and stability for decades," they said.

Analysts, regional diplomats and senior Taiwan officials noted that so far the operations around Taiwan are smaller than the those China staged to protest at the August 2022 visit to Taipei of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Then China staged live-fire drills as part of exercises that ran for days and were denounced by the U.S. as "extreme, disproportionate and escalatory."



President: Philippines Not in Business of Instigating Wars

FILE PHOTO: Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looks on as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looks on as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/File Photo
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President: Philippines Not in Business of Instigating Wars

FILE PHOTO: Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looks on as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Philippines' President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looks on as he meets with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, at Malacanang Palace in Manila, Philippines, March 19, 2024. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/File Photo

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Sunday his country is not in the business of instigating wars and will always aim to settle disputes peacefully, amid escalating maritime confrontations with China.
"In defending the nation, we stay true to our Filipino nature that we would like to settle all these issues peacefully," Marcos said in a speech to troops of the Western Command unit in charge of overseeing the South China Sea.
Philippine navy personnel and the Chinese coast guard had their latest clash during a routine resupply mission by Manila in the South China Sea last week, in which it said a sailor was severely injured and vessels damaged.
China's Coast Guard personnel carrying knives and spears looted firearms and "deliberately punctured" Philippine boats involved in the mission, the Philippine military said.
China disputed the Philippine account, with a foreign ministry spokesperson saying on Thursday the necessary measures taken were lawful, professional and beyond reproach.
Marcos, who did not name China in his speech, commended the troops for exercising restraint "amidst intense provocation", and said his country would always exercise its freedoms and rights in line with international law.
"In the performance of our duties, we will not resort to the use of force or intimidation, or deliberately inflict injury or harm to anyone," Reuters quoted Marcos as saying. "We stand firm. Our calm and peaceful disposition should not be mistaken for acquiescence."
Recent maritime run-ins between China and the Philippines, a US treaty ally in Southeast Asia, have made the highly strategic South China Sea a potential flashpoint between Washington and Beijing.
The United States has condemned China's actions and reaffirmed its ironclad defense commitments against any attack on Philippine aircraft or vessels in the South China Sea under their mutual defense treaty.
But the Philippines said on Friday there was no reason to invoke the treaty because China's actions, which security officials have described as escalatory, could not be classified as an "armed attack".
China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual shipborne commerce, including parts claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China's claims had no legal basis, a decision Beijing has rejected.
"We are not in the business to instigate wars - our great ambition is to provide a peaceful and prosperous life for every Filipino," Marcos said. "We refuse to play by the rules that force us to choose sides in a great power competition."