China practices blockades on last scheduled day of Taiwan drills

TAIPEI (Reuters) – China’s military conducted air and sea blockade drills around Taiwan on Monday, its last day of scheduled exercises, with a Chinese aircraft carrier joining patrols after Taipei reported another surge of warplanes near the island. China announced the three-day drills on Saturday after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei following a meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles. China considers Taiwan a democratically governed territory and has never shied away from using force to put the island under Beijing’s control. Taiwan’s government strongly denies China’s claims and has condemned the exercises. Chinese state television said aircraft, including H-6 nuclear bombers armed with missiles, and warships were conducting drills “to form a multi-directional blockade situation across the island”. “In the Taiwan Strait, the northwest and southwest of Taiwan and the waters east of Taiwan (Chinese forces) took the initiative to attack, giving full play to their performance advantages, flexibly maneuvering to favorable locations and advancing at high speed to discourage opponents. , ” said the report. The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said the aircraft carrier Shandong also took part in combat patrols and displayed fighter jets taking off from its deck. Taiwan has been monitoring Shandong in the Pacific since last week. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Monday released a map of Chinese air force activity over the past 24 hours, showing four aircraft based on Chinese J-15 aircraft operating across the Pacific east of Taiwan. The ministry said it had detected 59 military aircraft and 11 ships around Taiwan as of midday Monday, and Shandong’s aircraft carrier group was conducting exercises in the western Pacific. The Japanese Defense Ministry said Monday that Shandong conducted air operations in the waters near Japan’s Okinawa Islands. From Friday to Sunday, fighter jets and helicopters took off and landed on the aircraft carrier 120 times, and the aircraft carrier, three other warships and a support ship came within 230 kilometers (143 miles) of Japan’s Miyako Island, the Defense Ministry said. Japan has been watching Chinese military exercises around Taiwan with “great interest”, a senior government official said on Monday. Japan has long been concerned about China’s military activity in the region because Japan’s southern islands are close to Taiwan. “The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important not only for Japan’s security, but also for the stability of the entire international community,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters. The southern Japanese island of Okinawa is home to a large US air force base, and last August China held war games to protest the US visit at the time. President Nancy Pelosi’s room in Taipei, Chinese missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The European Union also expressed concern on Monday, saying that Taiwan’s status should not be changed by force, as any escalation, accident or use of force there would have huge global implications. The US has said it is closely monitoring China’s exercises. ARV: Chinese military aircraft arrive at Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone ‘LOCK TARGET’ The Chinese military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan on the second day of exercises around the island on Sunday. On Monday, the Eastern Theater Command posted a short video of an H-6 bomber flying north from Taiwan on its WeChat account. “Missiles are in good condition,” says an unidentified voice as the video shows footage from the cockpit. “Activate fire control radar, lock on target,” says another voice, showing images of a missile under the plane’s wing. It then shows the pilot preparing the fire control button for a simulated attack, then pressing the button, although it did not show any missiles being fired. Taiwan’s military has repeatedly said it responds calmly to China’s drills and does not cause conflict. On Monday, the Ministry of Defense released separate images of the launchers of the Taiwanese-made Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles at an as-yet-undisclosed location and of the fast attack ships armed with missiles at sea. Reuters reporters saw scenery near the Hsiung Feng launchers at Maobitou Cape Park in the southern tip of Taiwan’s Pingtung County on Monday as soldiers stood guard and tourists watched and posed for pictures. Life in Taiwan continued as normal without panic or disruption, and civilian flights are operating normally. “Most normal people are probably not afraid, because the main reason is that everyone thinks that China will definitely not start a war,” said Tang Pao-hsiung, 78, a retired and former soldier. Taiwan’s stock market shrugged off the excitement, with the benchmark index up 0.3% on Monday. However, China’s blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.5%, while the Shanghai Composite fell 0.4% as the exercises reduced investors’ risk appetite.

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