China Holds Military Drills Against Taiwan; Cross-Strait Tensions Resurge

United Daily News, August 14, 2020


The tensions in the Taiwan Strait have recently risen again as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced to hold military drills in the Taiwan Strait including the northern and southern ends of the Strait. This is a rare public announcement of military exercises against Taiwan since the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1995 to 1996. The exercises are combined operation comprised of PLA Army, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force.


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) issued a statement yesterday saying that the armed forces have been monitoring closely the situation in the Taiwan Strait and nearby areas both in the air and at sea and that the situation is currently normal and that the public should not be overly concerned. The MND went on to say that the armed forces have the ability and determination to defend the country's freedom, democracy and sovereignty, and contribute to regional security and stability.


Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) warned the mainland authorities not to misjudge the situation and take imprudent actions. MAC Deputy Minister Chiu Chui-cheng said that the PLA’s recent military exercises are provocation detrimental to the peace in the Taiwan Strait and harmful to the life and property of the Taiwanese people and no compromise will be accepted by the Taiwan side. The government will closely monitor the PLA’s movement and take countermeasures to ensure national security and sovereignty.


Senior Colonel Zhang Chun-hui, a spokesperson for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said yesterday on official website that “the Eastern Theater Command has in recent days dispatched numerous forces from multiple directions to conduct continuous systematic war games in the Taiwan Strait including the northern and southern ends of the Strait to further upgrade the combined operational capabilities of multiple forces.”


Zhang also said that “recently ‘certain major nation’ has taken negative actions to send serious misleading signals to Taiwan secessionists which will threaten the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait area. Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory, the theater command’s patrol and training exercises are necessary actions to cope with the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty.”


Zhang emphasized that “The forces in the Eastern Theater Command will maintain high alert and take necessary actions to counter any provocative behavior aimed at creating Taiwan independence and national separatism, and to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”


U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar recently visited Taiwan. The American Institute in Taiwan said it is the highest-ranking cabinet member of the US administration that have ever visited Taiwan. Mainland China was upset and lodged diplomatic protest, condemning the United States for violating the “one-China principle” and the Three Joint Communiqués.


It is rare for the PLA to announce military drills directly. The military drills in the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis during the tenure of President Lee Teng-hui was announced by the Xinhua News Agency, the official state-run press agency. The military drills in 2001 and 2004 during the tenure of President Chen Shui-bian was announced by pro-China Hong Kong media. Since then, neither the PLA nor any official news agency has issued a public statement regarding military drills targeting Taiwan.


Zhejiang Maritime Safety Administration of mainland China announced last night that live-fire drills would be held at sea near Taizhou's Baisha Island between August 14 to August 15 from 6 AM to 12 AM.


Moreover, there will be another live-fire drills at northern Daishan Channel in the Zhoushan Islands from August 16 to August 17. These drills are also considered as the part of the major military exercises.



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