Mainland Chinese forces focus on control and occupation in day 2 of military drills around Taiwan

A Friday commentary by the PLA Daily argued that the drills are “completely just and necessary” to punish “Taiwan separatists” and as a warning to “external forces”.

It again put the focus on Lai’s inauguration speech, which it said was “unprecedented” in its inclination towards Taiwan’s independence, and pledged to “respond in language [separatists] understand”.

The two-day exercises are aimed at punishing Taiwanese separatist forces like Lai, the PLA said.

Imagery released by the Pentagon, on the same day the PLA exercises kicked off, showed the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea for fuelling and replenishment missions along with three other ships.

Also on Thursday, US Lieutenant General Stephen Sklenka said that the drills around Taiwan are “concerning”, though not unexpected.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory, to be brought under mainland control, by force if necessary. The US, like most countries, does not recognise the island but is opposed to any unilateral change to the status quo. Washington is also Taipei’s largest arms provider.

The Taiwanese defence ministry on Friday continued to pledge vigilance against the PLA’s activities. Taipei said on Thursday that it would also be watching to see if the second day’s drills would involve live fire, which did not take place on Thursday.

The European Union’s diplomatic unit issued a statement on Thursday calling for restraint and the avoidance of actions that could escalate tensions.

“The EU has a direct interest in the preservation of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. We oppose any unilateral actions that change the status quo by force or coercion,” it said.

“All parties should exercise restraint and avoid any actions that may further escalate cross-strait tensions, which should be resolved through dialogue.”


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