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China announces military drills ‘encircling’ Taiwan

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File photo (Credit: Chinese military/Li Hao)

China has announced three days of military exercises encircling the island of Taiwan, an apparent response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s trip to the United States, where she met a top lawmaker.

Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesman for the Chinese army’s Eastern Theater Command, said in a brief statement that the military exercise, “United Sharp Sword,” is taking place from Saturday to Monday.

The military exercise, which also includes police patrols, will be carried out in the Taiwan Strait as well as the sea and airspace to the north, south and east of Taiwan, effectively encircling the island.

“This is a serious warning against the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces’ collusion and provocation with external forces, and it’s a necessary action to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the military said in a statement.

Saturday’s announcement came just a day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States, where she met with Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a move which angered Beijing.

It was not immediately known how many ships and planes will participate in the military drills. Taiwan’s defense ministry said 42 military planes and 8 ships had crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait by noon.

“The National Army is not afraid of the military threat from the Chinese Communist Party, and its officers and soldiers are standing by to defend national security,” a spokesman for Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

The spokesman added: “We will adhere to the principle of ‘no conflict, no dispute’ and will be on alert to monitor and dispatch troops as appropriate to safeguard national sovereignty and security.”

China carried out major military drills near Taiwan in August, shortly after then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island, which Beijing views as its own territory. Another series of drills happened in December.

File photo (Credit: Chinese military/Zhang Weile)

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