China ended three days of military exercises around Taiwan on Monday, saying it had tested integrated military capabilities under real combat conditions, having practiced precision strikes and blockading the island that Beijing sees as its own.
China announced the drills on Saturday after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei after a meeting in Los Angeles with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan’s government strongly disputes China’s claims and has condemned the exercises.
The Chinese military said it had “successfully completed” the exercises and “comprehensively tested” the capabilities of various units under real combat conditions.
“The troops in the operation are ready to fight at any time, resolutely crushing any form of separatism for Taiwan independence and foreign interference,” the People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.
Chinese state television reported on Monday that aircraft, including a nuclear-capable H-6 bomber armed with real missiles, and warships carried out exercises to “form a multi-directional blockade situation encompassing an island”.
Eastern Command said the aircraft carrier Shandong also took part in combat patrols and showed fighter jets taking off from its deck.
Taiwan has been tracking the Shandong since last week in the Pacific Ocean.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense published a map on Monday of the previous 24 hours of Chinese air force activities. The map showed four carrier-based Chinese J-15 fighter jets operating over the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan.
The ministry said that as of mid-morning Monday it had sighted 59 military aircraft and 11 ships in Taiwan, and that the aircraft carrier group Shandong was conducting exercises in the Western Pacific.
The Shandong conducted air operations in waters off Japan’s Okinawa islands on Sunday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.
Japan has long been concerned about China’s military activities in the region, given Japan’s southern islands’ proximity to Taiwan.
The island of Okinawa in southern Japan is home to a major US air force base, and last August, when China staged war games to protest the visit of then-Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, to Taipei, Chinese missiles hit Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The European Union also expressed concern on Monday, saying Taiwan’s status must not be changed by force, and that any escalation, accident or use of force would have huge global implications.
The United States has said it is closely watching China’s exercises.
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