Rapid Fire

China Launches War Games Around Taiwan as ‘Punishment’

China is staging war games that encircle Taiwan after its new president failed to properly kowtow to China’s will in his inaugural address.

On Thursday, 15 Chinese navy vessels, 16 Chinese coast guard vessels and 42 Chinese military aircraft were spotted circling about the main island outlying islands, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said, according to The New York Times.

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said in a statement that the exercise was “a strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces,” according to Reuters.

President Lai Ching-te ruffled highly sensitive Chinese feathers in his inaugural speech by saying Taiwan and China are “not subordinate to each other” and only Taiwan’s citizens can determine its future.

“I hope that China will face the reality of [Taiwan]’s existence, respect the choices of the people of Taiwan, and in good faith, choose dialogue over confrontation, exchange over containment, and under the principles of parity and dignity, engage in cooperation with the legal government chosen by Taiwan’s people,” he said in his speech.

Lai pledged to “neither yield nor provoke” and to defend Taiwan “in the face of the many threats and attempts at infiltration from China.”

As a result, Wang Yi, China’s top foreign policy official, issued an irate response, according to the Times.

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“The ugly acts of Lai Ching-te and others who betray the nation and their ancestors is disgraceful,” he said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry. “All Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history.”

China claims that Taiwan, a self-governing democratic nation that became the refuge of the nationalist government after it lost the 1949 revolution to Mao Zedong, is rightly its territory.

It has held large-scale military exercises in past fits of pique, with the largest recent one coming after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California visited Taiwan in 2022.

According to Reuters, China said it expanded the area of drills into the small islands around Taiwan and sent dozens of fighter jets with live missiles and simulated attacks on high-value targets.

The drills did not enter the area around the island Taiwan considered its territorial waters.

Taiwan’s defense ministry condemned China’s actions.

“The launch of military exercises on this occasion not only does not contribute to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, it also highlights [China’s] militaristic mentality,” the ministry said.

Su Tzu-yun, a research fellow at Taiwan’s Institute for National Defence and Security Research, said the goal of the drill was to remind Taiwan that China can encircle it and prevent foreign help from arriving.

“The political signals here are greater than the military ones,” he sa

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