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China Begins “Punishment” Military Drills Around Taiwan After It Elected New President

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In what it described as “punishment” for “separatist acts,” China began two days of military drills surrounding Taiwan only days after the self-governing island swore in a new democratically elected leader.

The exercises began early on Thursday and will take place around Taiwan-controlled islands and in the Taiwan Strait, launching heavily armed combat aircraft and carrying out practice attacks. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), through its Eastern Theater Command, announced on Thursday that it has begun combined army, navy, air force, and rocket force training in various regions surrounding Taiwan.

The command’s spokeswoman, Naval Colonel Li Xi, described the drills as “a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces and a strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces.”

This marks newly appointed Taiwan President Lai Ching-te’s first significant challenge in managing tense relations with China since he assumed office on Monday.

China see him as a “separatist”. It has condemned President Lai’s inauguration speech on Monday, in which Lai stated that the two sides of the strait are “not subordinate to each other” and urged China to cease its threats.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi referred to Lai as “disgraceful” on Tuesday. Beijing views Lai, who began the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) historic third consecutive term in office, as a “dangerous separatist” because he has defended Taiwan’s sovereignty and unique identity.

Lai has been rejected every time he has offered to have discussions with China. He opposes Beijing’s claims of sovereignty, saying that only the people of Taiwan can determine their own destiny.

Despite never having ruled the island, China’s ruling Communist Party claims it is part of its territory and has threatened to annex the island, using force if necessary.

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