China’s unprecedented military drill surrounding Taiwan will continue—despite originally being scheduled to end on Sunday—Beijing announced on Monday, in a move that is likely to further raise tensions in the region.
In an official statement, the Eastern Theater command of the Chinese military said the extended exercises will now focus on “anti-submarine and sea assault operations.”
The nature of Monday’s drills will once again raise fears that the Chinese military is using the exercise as a potential dress rehearsal for a full-fledged invasion of Taiwan.
While the exact location of the current drill has not been specified, since Tuesday China has been carrying out live firing exercises enveloping Taiwan on all sides.
The continuing exercises are also likely to further disrupt all air traffic and shipping routes in the area.
In response to China’s actions, the Taiwanese military will carry out live-fire drills on the island’s southernmost county on Tuesday and Thursday, the island’s Central News Agency reported.
Taiwan’s military also plans to carry out its annual exercise on September 5, which will include attack helicopters, combat vehicles, armored vehicles and snipers.
66. That is the number of Chinese military aircraft detected by Taiwan’s military forces on Sunday, the island’s Ministry of National Defense tweeted. Fourteen navy vessels were also spotted by the MoND.
Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. Bi-khim Hsiao told CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday: “There’s no reason for them [China]
Last week, China carried out “long-range live fire” precision missile strikes across the Taiwan Strait as part of its biggest-ever military drills surrounding Taiwan. In addition to the missiles—some of which flew over Taiwan—the Chinese military’s warships and jets carried out live firing drills across six zones completely enveloping the island. The high stakes drills were an angry response by Beijing to the visit of a U.S. Congressional delegation to Taiwan led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The drills which reportedly focused on sea blockades, strikes on ground or sea targets, gaining air superiority and joint combat operations where scheduled to take place till Sunday. The New York Times reported that there was some concern within Washington that the exercises could transform into a months-long blockade of the island. Taiwan is currently self-governed by a democratically elected leadership but Beijing views the island as a part of its territory and has vowed to integrate it with the mainland.
China extends threatening military exercises around Taiwan (Associated Press)