China has commenced three days of military exercises around Taiwan, as announced by the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theatre Command. The move follows Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's return to the United States, which spurred anger in Beijing. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and had previously threatened unspecified retaliation if a meeting between Tsai and US officials took place.
Taiwanese officials anticipated a less severe reaction to the McCarthy meeting but did not dismiss the possibility of more extensive Chinese drills. In response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, China deployed 42 fighter jets toward Taiwan and initiated Joint Sword exercises along with combat readiness patrols in surrounding areas.
On Saturday morning, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reported sightings of 42 Chinese fighters crossing over an unofficial median line that generally serves as a boundary between both sides. Additionally, eight Chinese ships were observed in close proximity.
These recent military actions are reminiscent similar demonstrations held last August when then-House speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei; at that time Beijing staged war games involving live-fire missile launches targeting locations near Taiwan.
The ongoing tension between China and various international powers seeking diplomatic ties with or support for self-governed island nation have raised concerns regarding conflict escalation within this already volatile region.