By Mahmut Atanur
BEIJING (AA) – China has conducted military drills along its southeast coast ahead of a Taiwanese president-elect from a traditionally pro-independence party taking office.
China’s defense ministry announced Wednesday that the exercises involved the 31st Group Army based in the province of Fujian, located across a strait to the west of Taiwan -- which the mainland considers a breakaway province.
"It is routine arrangement to execute military drills in the southeast of China according to annual training plan, and these drills are not aimed at any specific target,” it said in a statement.
The drills come before the scheduled inauguration Friday of Taiwan’s new leader, Tsai Ing-wen of the former opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which secured its first ever majority in the island’s legislature in January polls.
Whereas the outgoing government of the nationalist Kuomintang party had overseen an improvement in ties with the mainland, the DPP has not historically recognized Beijing’s "one China" policy.
A few days after the DPP won the Jan. 16 election, the mainland’s 31st Group Army conducted a live-fire drill.
The state-run China Daily reported Wednesday that at least three exercises had been held along the mainland’s southeastern coast this month.
Beijing has insisted that ties with Taiwan be based on the 1992 Consensus – and the "one China" principle it entails -- to which the DPP has objected in the past.
After winning the election, however, Tsai said she "understands and respects" the "historic fact" that the sides "reached some common acknowledgments and understanding in 1992", but without using the term.