By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) - China held major military exercises around Taiwan on Sunday, including strike drills, a military spokesperson said.
“This is a firm response to the current escalation of provocations by the US in collusion with the Taiwan authorities,” Sr. Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
He said the PLA conducted a “joint combat-readiness security patrol and joint firepower striking exercise involving troops of multiple services and arms in the waters and airspace around Taiwan Island.”
Chinese forces “will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he asserted.
The drills came in apparent response to the US’ updated National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which calls for increased security cooperation with Taiwan, an island of around 24 million people that China considers a “breakaway province.”
Exchanges and military sales between Washington and Taipei have increased since former President Donald Trump’s tenure.
Under the NDAA, Washington will spend around $11.5 billion “to enhance US deterrence and defense in the Indo-Pacific,” where it leads a loose security alliance with Japan, Australia and India, known as the Quad.
The law authorizes President Joe Biden’s administration to dole out up to $10 billion in security assistance to Taipei over the next five years “to modernize Taiwan’s security capabilities.”
Sr. Col. Tan Kefei, spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry, on Saturday criticized the NDAA for its “negative provisions regarding China.”
He said the law “plays up the so-called ‘China Threat’ in disregard of facts, interferes into China’s internal affairs wantonly, and makes up excuses for expanding military expenditures and maintaining hegemony.”
Tan warned it will “not only harm the national sovereignty, security and development interests of China, but also poison the military-to-military relations between the two countries.”
“Facts have proved more than once that the US is the direct threat to the international order and the culprit of the regional turbulence,” he asserted.
- Chinese planes, ships detected: Taiwan
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said early on Monday it detected 71 PLA aircraft and seven navy vessels “in our surrounding region.”
A statement said 47 aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the southwestern part of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
Taiwanese forces monitored the situation and tasked their aircraft, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond, the ministry said.
Beijing does not recognize the median line nor the ADIZ.