China begins military drills 'surrounding' Taiwan — state media

Agence France-Presse
China begins military drills 'surrounding' Taiwan � state media
This handout taken on August 19, 2023 and released on August 20 by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense shows a Taiwanese navy sailor monitoring a Chinese navy warship (background C) at sea. China held air and sea drills around Taiwan on August 19, in what it said was a "stern warning" after the island's vice president visited the United States.
Photo by Handout / Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense / AFP

BEIJING, China — China on Thursday morning began two days of military drills involving navy vessels and aircraft "surrounding the island of Taiwan", state media reported.

"The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) started joint military drills surrounding the island of Taiwan from 7:45 a.m. Thursday (2345 GMT)," Xinhua news agency reported, adding the drills were being conducted in the Taiwan Strait and to the north, south and east of the island.

The drills, code-named Joint Sword-2024A and involving the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, come three days after Lai Ching-te was sworn in as the self-ruled island's new president.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has branded Lai a "dangerous separatist" who will bring "war and decline" to the island.

Xinhua reported military spokesman Li Xi as saying the exercises would "focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets".

Li added that the drills "involve the patrol of vessels and planes closing in on areas around the island of Taiwan and integrated operations inside and outside the island chain to test the joint real combat capabilities of the forces of the command".

The spokesperson said the drills would also serve as a "strong punishment for the separatist acts of 'Taiwan independence' forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces", Xinhua said.

Beijing's news agency reported the drills would also take place around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin.

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