China on Thursday deployed dozens of fighter jets with real missiles and carried out simulated attacks with warships in specific areas during a military exercise in Taiwan. The Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China reported that the simulated attack maneuvers targeted “enemy” ships and fighters and were carried out as “strong punishment” in response to “acts.” separatists regarding independence” and the island and warning “against interference and provocation” by external forces.

The military exercises, focused on joint air and maritime combat readiness, battlefield takeover and precision strikes on key targets, took place in the Taiwan Strait and on small islands in the archipelago controlled by Taipei early in the day. in the morning, three days after Lai Ching Te assumed the presidency of the island. Beijing, which considers Taiwan its own territory, denounced the inauguration speech of the new Taiwanese president, who demanded that China stop its constant threats. And he called him a “secessionist” and a “troublemaker.”

“These (exercises) are a serious warning against external forces that provoke and interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a press conference. The spokesperson reiterated that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” something that “will never change in the future.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, for its part, condemned the “provocation” of Xi Jinping’s government and mobilized its sea, air and land forces to protect its territory. “Launching military exercises on this occasion not only does not contribute to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, but also highlights (China’s) militaristic mentality,” the ministry said. 

Lai assured that his Government will show “determination” when it comes to “protecting” the island and asked all citizens “to be calm.” “Right now, the international community is paying close attention to democratic Taiwan. In the face of external challenges and threats, we will continue to defend the value of freedom and democracy and protect regional peace and stability,” said the president during an event at the headquarters of the 66th Marine Brigade.

Taiwan detected the presence of 42 Chinese aircraft and 31 ships around the island and its peripheral archipelagos, during the first day of the maneuvers. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported that 28 of those planes crossed the dividing line of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial border that had been respected by Beijing and Taipei for decades, or entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed Air Identification Zone (ADIZ). the highest figure so far this year. Defense also detected 15 Navy ships and 16 Chinese Coast Guard ships sailing in the vicinity of Taiwan and the Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyn islands, archipelagos under Taiwanese control and located a few kilometers from China. China announced that the exercises, called “Joint Sword – 2024A”, will last two days. 

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a territory it considers a “rebellious province” since the Kuomintang nationalists retreated there in 1949 after losing the war against the communist army. Although this is the largest military maneuver carried out by China on the island so far this year, in August 2022, Beijing also reprimanded the island and its allies with four days of large-scale military exercises, in retaliation for the visit of the then Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the island. And in 1995, China fired missiles to show its displeasure over a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng Hui to Washington.