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China holds ‘low key’ military exercises on the Taiwan Strait

Taipei (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The military exercises that China conducted yesterday in the Taiwan Strait were “scaled down”, even if they wanted to be a provocation to the “rebel” island’s claims of independence.

This is the opinion of the Taipei Ministry of National Defense spokesperson, Chen Chung-chi, who declared that the People’s Liberation Army activities (Pla) military drills were only a routine exercise and for this reason Taiwan would not raise its combat level.

Sources from the PLA, interviewed by the SCMP, also downplayed the drill : “It was relatively small-scale because Beijing wanted to send a warning to the separatists and the independence-leaning [Taiwanese president] Tsai Ing-wen administration, not provoke ordinary people’s emotions”.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing began to sour in 2016, with the victory of Tsai and its Democratic Progress party. Since Tsai has not expressed its support for the “one China” principle, Beijing is convinced that the island’s government is aiming for independence. China looks to Taiwan as a “rebel” island and has promised several times to target it and invade it militarily if it dares to proclaim independence.

In recent days, China’s official media had stressed that the Strait exercises wanted to show that Beijing will not tolerate any moves by the separatist forces in Taiwan.

For Chen Chung-chi “it is the Chinese Communist Party that has played this up with cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling through the state media, hoping to create panic and unease”. In any case, a Taiwanese live cannon drill scheduled for yesterday was canceled.

The Chinese exercises, which started at 8 in the morning and ended at 11 in the evening, used ships and helicopters to hit targets in the water and attack them.

Despite being “low key”, the Liaoning, the first aircraft carrier “made in China”, will pass through the Strait in these days, heading towards the port of Dalian, after having participated in the naval parade in the South China Sea.

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