Taipei CNN --
China has announced that it will begin three days of military drills around Taiwan. This announcement comes after Taiwan's President met with the US House Speaker to defy Beijing's repeated threats.
Chinese Eastern Theater Command, which announced the drills on Saturday, described them as "a serious warning against Taiwan separatist forces colluding with external forces and a necessity to defend national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the national security."
In a statement released on Saturday, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, of the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, said that the exercises, called 'United Sharp Sword', would include 'combat-ready patrols and exercise in and around Taiwan Strait and to the North, South and East of Taiwan, as well as the sea and airspace,'
Taiwan's Defense Ministry said that it detected 42 Chinese warplanes in total over the Taiwan Strait which separates Taiwan from the Chinese mainland. The ministry said that 29 Chinese warplanes crossed the median line of the strait and entered its air defense zone. Eight PLA vessels were also spotted in the Strait.
The drills are a day after Taiwanese President Tsai ing-wen's return from a 10-day trip to Central America and United States, where she met US House speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Beijing warned repeatedly against the trip, and threatened to take "strong and resolute" measures if it was carried out. China has tried to isolate Taiwan diplomatically for decades, even though it never ruled the island. It claims that Taiwan is part of its territory despite having never governed it. It hasn't ruled out using force to take the island under control.
Chinese warplanes make almost daily incursions into Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone (a buffer zone outside its territorial airspace), a zone that it has declared to be insulated from Chinese airspace.
In October 2021, 56 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan's ADIZ on a single daily basis.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry said on Saturday that it closely monitored the situation and will make every effort in order to defend national sovereignty and security.
The People's Liberation Army is intentionally creating tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The ministry stated that it not only damages peace and stability but also has a negative impact on regional security and development.
The ministry said earlier Saturday that it would respond calmly, rationally and seriously to the drills and not try to escalate conflict.
China responded in a similar manner when Nancy Pelosi, then the US House Speaker, visited Taiwan in August. It launched a series military drills which encircled the island and fired missiles above it.
These drills marked the first time China fired missiles above the island. Many experts considered them to be a significant escalation in China's military threats against Taiwan.
Some of these missiles fell into Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, near Japanese islands north of Taiwan. This heightened tensions between Beijing & Tokyo.
In August, dozens of Chinese aircraft crossed into Taiwan's air defence identification zone. PLA Navy warships also performed maneuvers around Taiwan.
Beijing claimed to have simulated an air and water 'blockade of the island' at the time, but provided little evidence in support of this claim.
Taiwanese officials had expected a milder reaction from McCarthy's visit to Tsai because the meeting took place in the US.