China Aims to ‘Normalise’ Military Drills Near Taiwan

Last Updated on March 11, 2024 3:15 pm

Taiwan’s top security official informed parliament on Monday that China is working to “normalise” military drills near the democratic island, intensifying its military activities in the region. China has been increasing its presence near Taiwan, with almost daily incursions into the island’s air defense identification zones and regular “combat readiness patrols,” involving drills by its air and naval forces.

Taiwan National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai Ming-yen disclosed that China conducts “joint combat readiness patrols” near Taiwan approximately every 7-10 days on average. This includes dispatching around 10 warplanes and 3 to 4 naval ships on these patrols. Tsai described this as part of a “multi-front” effort by China, which also includes economic coercions and misinformation campaigns, all aimed at exerting pressure on the island.

Despite China’s claims over Taiwan as its own territory, the island strongly objects to such assertions. Tsai emphasized that these military activities by China are an attempt to normalize their presence and operations near Taiwan. He noted that these patrols are occasionally timed to coincide with diplomatic events, such as visits to the island by foreign lawmakers.

Tsai reassured that Taipei is closely monitoring the situation and engaging in discussions with international allies to assess the possibility of a Chinese invasion. However, he asserted that there is currently no indication of an imminent war breaking out in the Taiwan Strait. In the face of increased tensions, Taiwan has urged Beijing to maintain the “status quo” around waters near Taiwan’s frontline islands.

Last month, Beijing initiated regular coast guard patrols around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands, near the Chinese coast, following the deaths of two Chinese fishermen attempting to flee Taiwan’s coast guard. Tsai anticipates that China will continue employing a dual strategy of engagement and intimidation toward Taiwan, especially as the new president, Vice President Lai Ching-te, assumes office on May 20. Lai, viewed as a separatist by China, won the presidency in January.

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