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Taiwan says China drills more about intimidation, propaganda than starting war

Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about new President Lai Ching-te being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.
Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 02:59 IST
Last Updated : 29 May 2024, 02:59 IST

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Taipei: China's military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react extremely quickly, the island's top security official said on Wednesday.

China said it carried out the two days of war games starting Thursday as "punishment" for new President Lai Ching-te's inauguration speech last week, in which he said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were "not subordinate to each other", which China viewed as a declaration the two are separate countries.

China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Lai rejects China's sovereignty claims, saying only Taiwan's people can decide their future, and has repeatedly offered talks with Beijing but been rebuffed.

Speaking to reporters at parliament, Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen said the aim of China's drills was not to go to war.

"The purpose of the military exercises was to intimidate, not to start a war," he said.

The drills were to show an external and domestic audience that Beijing "has absolute control over the situation in the Taiwan Strait", Tsai added.

Speaking in Beijing, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, reiterated its list of complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan's formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.

The drills were a "just action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity", she said.

"As Taiwan's provocations for independence continue, the People's Liberation Army's actions to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity continue."

The government in Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong's Communists who set up the People's Republic of China.

China has in the past four years sent its military to areas around Taiwan on an almost daily basis, as it seeks to exert pressure on the island.

But China also appeared to be trying to keep the scope of these drills contained, Tsai's bureau said in a written report to lawmakers, noting there was no declaration of no-fly or no-sail zones and the exercises lasted only two days.

"The intention was to avoid the situation escalating and international intervention, but in the future it is feared (China) will continue its compound coercion against us, gradually changing the Taiwan Strait's status quo," it said.

Tsai added that Chinese forces mobilised almost as soon as China announced the drills early on Thursday.

"The speed was extremely fast, demonstrating rapid mobilisation capabilities," he said.

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Published 29 May 2024, 02:59 IST

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