PLA’s ‘Joint Sword’ drill ends but Taiwan keeping “close watch”
Taiwan/Beijing: The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) today announced the end of the war exercise named ‘Joint Sword’ that encircled Taiwan since April 8, 2023. Taipei said its armed forces will continue to keep a close watch on PLA’s movements around the clock and “act accordingly”.
Earlier, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense claimed that 91 PLA aircraft and 12 vessels were detected today by 18:00(UTC+8) and 54 of the detected aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the island nation’s South West and South East air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Taiwan said its armed forces have monitored the situation and tasked its combat air patrol aircraft (CAP), Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities.
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An unrelenting Beijing, though, today made it loud and clear that the “Joint Sword” exercise “is a stern warning to the provocative activities of “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces and their collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity (of China)”.
“The Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair. The biggest threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait is the “Taiwan independence” separatist activities and the US connivance at and support for them…To maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, one must reject all forms of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wan Wenbin told reporters in Beijing today.
In face of China’s aggressive war exercise – “Joint Sword”, yesterday, the Taiwanese defence ministry went to the extent of tweeting, “#Taiwan is our homeland, and no matter where we go or what we encounter, she is always charming and beautiful. Every story on this land is etched in our memories. We, #ROCArmedForces, are fighting with all our heart to defend our homeland and to protect our home together”.
Taiwanese authorities have reportedly stated that the intensity and scale of China’s military exercises around Taiwan was the same as what was seen during or after House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in early August last year.
Wenbin today referred to an earlier statement by the Chinese foreign office on the “transit” by Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in the US, stressing that in response to the “seriously wrong move taken jointly by the US and Taiwan, China will adopt strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Beijing stressed that the one-China principle is a prevailing consensus of the international community and a universally recognized basic norm in international relations. It warned the US, which along with the Philipines is about to hold their biggest-ever joint military exercises this week starting tomorrow, that the US-Philippines military cooperation must not interfere in South China Sea disputes, “still less harm China’s territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests and security interests”.
In light of French President Emmanuel Macron’s reply to an interviewer yesterday that Europe should not be a follower of either the US or China on the Taiwan issue and that Europe should not become entangled in crises that do not concern it, Beijing stated today, “We hope the world will see clearly the nature of the Taiwan question, follow the one-China principle and oppose all forms of “Taiwan independence” separatist activities… “Taiwan independence” and cross-Strait peace and stability are as irreconcilable as fire and water”.