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China’s Drills Near Taiwan Aim to Test ‘Seize Power’ Capability, Raising Tensions


China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has initiated large-scale military exercises encircling Taiwan, with the stated purpose of testing its ability to “seize power” over the self-ruled island. These exercises come just days after Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, was sworn in. Lai, who openly champions the sovereignty and distinct identity, has been labeled a “dangerous separatist” by Beijing.

The Drills and Their Significance

  • Codename: Joint Sword-2024A: The ongoing military drills, codenamed “Joint Sword-2024A,” involve joint operations of China’s army, navy, air force, and rocket force. They are the largest exercises conducted in more than a year.
  • Testing Joint Capabilities: The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command stated that the drills aim to “test the ability to jointly seize power, launch joint attacks, and occupy key areas” around Taiwan.
  • China’s View: The ruling Communist Party in China considers Taiwan part of its territory, despite never having controlled it. Beijing has vowed to take the island by force if necessary, even though the vast majority of Taiwanese have no desire to live under China’s rule.
  • Xi Jinping’s Stance: Chinese leader Xi Jinping has emphasized the “inevitable reunification” of Taiwan with the mainland, signaling that the issue cannot be postponed indefinitely.

Escalating Tensions in Taiwan

  • Taiwan’s Response: Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has condemned China’s military exercises as “irrational provocations.” In response, they dispatched its own sea, air, and ground forces.
  • Increased Intimidation: China’s intimidation of Taiwan has grown more pronounced under Xi’s leadership. The PLA’s actions reflect this escalation.
  • Coast Guard Involvement: For the first time, the PLA drills included China’s Coast Guard, operating near the outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin. These islands are located just off the southeastern coast of China.

Regional Implications

  • Taiwan Strait and Beyond: The exercises are being conducted in the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan from mainland China, as well as north, south, and east of Taiwan.
  • Unrecognized Demarcation Line: China’s actions have crossed the Median Line—an informal demarcation point in the Strait that Beijing does not recognize but had largely respected until recent years.
  • Heightened Tensions: The military drills have heightened tensions in the region, with both sides closely monitoring each other’s movements.

In summary, China’s military drills serve as a demonstration of its capabilities and a signal of its determination to assert control over the island. As the situation remains tense, the international community watches closely, hoping for peaceful resolution while acknowledging the complexities of cross-strait relations3. 🌐

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