China practices blockades on last scheduled day of Taiwan drillsApril 12, 2023
China launches simulated BLOCKADE of Taiwan with 11 warships and 70 fighter jets – including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with LIVE missiles – as tensions ratchet up around island
- China’s military conducted naval and aerial blockade drills around Taiwan on as it wrapped up three days of exercises, with an aircraft carrier joining in patrols
- President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taiwan from a meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles
- China views Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control. Taiwanese officials denounced drills
China simulated a ‘sealing off’ of Taiwan during a third day of wargames around the self-ruled island on Monday, as the United States deployed a naval destroyer into Beijing-claimed water in its own show of force – raising tensions in the region.
Beijing announced the three days of drills on Saturday, after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei following a meeting in Los Angeles with U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
The drills on Monday saw a Chinese aircraft carrier joining in combat patrols as Taipei reported another surge of warplanes near the island – including ship-launched J-15 fighter jets, that have until now never been seen inside Taiwan’s air defence zone, and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles.
Meanwhile, the US – which had repeatedly called for China to show restraint – sent the guided-missile destroyer the USS Milius through contested parts of the South China Sea. Japan also responded, scrambling jets in response to the air drills.
The move by the US navy angered Chinese officials, who said the warship had ‘illegally intruded’ in the South China sea.
The Ministry of National Defence of Taiwan tweets a video showing Chinese PLA ships and planes in their territory, with caption: 70 PLA aircraft and 11 vessels were detected by 16:00(UTC+8) April 9th. 35 of the detected aircraft had crossed northern, central, and southern median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered our southwest ADIZ.
China simulated a ‘sealing off’ of Taiwan during a third day of wargames around the self-island on Monday as the United States deployed a naval destroyer into Beijing-claimed waters
China’s military conducted naval and aerial blockade drills around Taiwan on as it wrapped up three days of exercises, with an aircraft carrier joining in patrols
A pilot is photographed operating an aircraft of the Air Force under the Eastern Theatre Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) during a combat readiness patrol and ‘Joint Sword’ exercises around Taiwan, at an undisclosed location
President Tsai Ing-wen, left, returned to Taiwan from a meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles
China and Taiwan split at the end of a civil war in 1949.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control. On the contrary, China’s president Xi Jinping sees reunification as a key goal.
Taiwan’s government strongly disputes China’s claims and has denounced the drills.
READ MORE: How China could STARVE Taiwan into submission, or carry out the biggest, most unimaginably violent amphibious assault the world has ever seen as part of Beijing’s bid for global dominance
Chinese state television said aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles, along with warships and an aircraft carrier staged drills to ‘form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation’.
‘In the Taiwan Strait, the northwest and southwest of Taiwan and the waters east of Taiwan (Chinese forces) took the initiative to attack, giving full play to their performance advantages, flexibly maneuvering to seize favorable positions, and advancing at high speed to deter opponents,’ the report said.
The Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said the aircraft carrier the Shandong also took part in combat patrols, and showed fighters taking off from its deck.
Taiwan has been tracking the Shandong since last week in the Pacific Ocean.
Taiwan’s defence ministry published a map on Monday of the previous 24 hours of Chinese air force activities, showing four carrier-based Chinese J-15 fighters operating over the Pacific Ocean to Taiwan’s east.
The ministry said that as of mid-morning on Monday that it had spotted 59 military aircraft and 11 ships around Taiwan, and that the Shandong carrier group was drilling in the Western Pacific.
The Shandong conducted air operations in waters close to Japan’s Okinawan islands on Sunday, Japan’s defence ministry said on Monday.
Jet fighters and helicopters took off and landed on the carrier 120 times between Friday and Sunday, with the carrier, three other warships and a support vessel coming within 143 miles of Japan’s Miyako island, the defence ministry said.
Japan has been following China’s military drills around Taiwan ‘with great interest’, a top government spokesperson said on Monday.
Japan has long worried about China’s military activities in the area given how close southern Japanese islands are to Taiwan.
‘The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not only important for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the international community as a whole,’ Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
The southern Japanese island of Okinawa hosts a major U.S. air force base, and last August when China staged war games to protest the visit of then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, Chinese missiles landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Chinese navy ships take part in a military drill in the Taiwan Strait. China’s military sent several dozen warplanes and 11 warships toward Taiwan in a display of force
A man stands on a jetty behind a tourist boat and Chinese flags on Pingtan island, opposite Taiwan, in Chinas southeast Fujian province
Soldiers of Taiwanese Army also take part in a military exercise at an undisclosed location in Taiwan
Exercises on Monday were set to include live-fire drills off the rocky coast of China’s Fujian province, about 50 miles south of the Matsu islands and 120 miles from Taipei.
The local maritime authority said the exercises would be held between 7:00 am and 8:00 pm around Pingtan, a southeastern island that is China’s nearest point to Taiwan.
AFP journalists on Pingtan did not see any immediate military activity in an offshore area on Monday.
A video published Monday to the Eastern Theatre Command’s official WeChat account showed a pilot saying he had ‘arrived near the northern part of Taiwan Island’, with missiles ‘locked into place’.
In another video with dramatic orchestral accompaniment, the pierce of an officer’s whistle sends military personnel running into position as a simulated barrage on Taiwan unfolds on screen.
The US has said it is also watching China’s drills closely, and on Monday sent the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius through contested parts of the South China Sea.
‘This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea,’ the US Navy said in a statement
It added the vessel had passed near the Spratly Islands – an archipelago claimed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. It is about 1,300 kilometres (800 miles) from Taiwan.
The deployment of the Milius immediately triggered more anger from China, which said the vessel had ‘illegally intruded’ into its territorial waters.
The United States has been deliberately ambiguous on whether it would defend Taiwan militarily.
But for decades it has sold weapons to Taipei to help ensure its self-defence, and offered political support.
Tsai met McCarthy outside Los Angeles on her way home from a visit with two allied countries in Central America.
In August last year, China deployed warships, missiles and fighter jets around Taiwan in its largest show of force in years following a trip to the island by McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi.
Tsai met with McCarthy last week in the United States, rather than in Taiwan.
This was viewed as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid inflaming tensions with Beijing.
But China had repeatedly warned against any meeting, and began the latest wargames soon after Tsai returned to Taiwan.
‘These operations serve as a stern warning against the collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and external forces and against their provocative activities,’ said Shi Yin, a PLA spokesman, said about ‘Joint Sword’.
Tsai responded to the drills by pledging to work with ‘the US and other like-minded countries’ in the face of ‘continued authoritarian expansionism’.
Military boats from Taiwan’s Amphibious Reconnaissance and Patrol Unit patrol the Matsu Islands as Chinese fighter jets and warships simulated strikes on Taiwan
Air Defense and Missile Command of Taiwan Air Force takes part in a military exercise, at an undisclosed location in Taiwan
Chinese military vehicles of are pictured as the country conducted a second day of military drills around Taiwan on April 9, in what it has called a ‘stern warning’ to the self-ruled island
Taiwanese soldiers are seen manning anti-aircraft artillery near Taipei, as China conducts military exercises around the self-ruled island
China simulated a ‘sealing off’ of Taiwan during a third day of wargames around the self-ruled island on Monday as the United States deployed a naval destroyer into Beijing-claimed waters in a show of force
China’s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in the second day of drills around the island on Sunday.
The Eastern Theatre Command on Monday released a short video on its WeChat account showing an H-6 bomber flying in what it said was the skies north of Taiwan.
‘The missiles are in good condition,’ an unidentified voice says, as the video shows images from the cockpit.
‘Start the fire control radar, lock on the target,’ another voice says, showing images of a missile under the aircraft’s wing
It then shows a pilot readying the fire control button for what it describes as a simulated attack, and then pressing the button, though it did not show any missiles being fired.
Taiwan’s military has repeatedly said it will respond calmly to China’s drills and not provoke conflict.
The defence ministry separately released pictures on Monday of mobile launchers for the Taiwan-made Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles at an undisclosed location, as well as missile-armed fast attack boats at sea.
Reuters reporters at the Cape Maobitou park in Pingtung county on Taiwan’s southern tip saw Hsiung Feng launchers deployed near a scenic spot on Monday, as soldiers stood guard and tourists watched.
Life in Taiwan has continued normally with no signs of panic or disruption, and civilian flights operating as usual.
\People walk on the beach watching the sunset, in Pingtan, Fujian province on Sunday night
Anti-tank fortifications from previous conflicts are seen silhouetted as the sun sets over Chinese city Xiamen in Kinmen, Taiwan. Kinmen, an island in the Taiwan strait that is part of Taiwan’s territory, is so close to China that the deep-water port of Xiamen, one of China’s biggest, lies less than three miles away across the water
A Taiwanese tank used in previous conflicts and on display for tourists is seen silhouetted against the skyline of Chinese city Xiamen as dusk fell on Sunday
‘Most normal people probably aren’t afraid, with the main reason being that everyone thinks that China will certainly not start a war,’ said retiree and former soldier Tang Pao-hsiung, 78.
On Beigan island, part of Taiwan’s Matsu archipelago that is within eyesight of China’s mainland, 60-year-old chef Lin Ke-qiang told AFP he simply did not want war.
‘We, common people, just want to live peaceful and stable lives,’ Lin said, adding Taiwan’s military was no match for China’s.
‘If any war happens, now that their missiles are so advanced, there’s no way our side could resist. This side will be levelled to the ground.’
China’s military hardware for its drills around Taiwan
China is brandishing a wide array of military equipment and weapons as it conducts drills around Taiwan intended to intimidate the self-ruled island.
The three-day show of force, which began on Saturday, comes after a visit by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to the United States sparked China’s ire.
Here is a rundown of Beijing’s arsenal:
China has deployed dozens of planes in the airspace around Taiwan over the three days, including J-16 and J-10C fighter jets.
The state-of-the-art J-16s, built by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, are capable of carrying both close- and long-range missiles, according to the state-run Global Times.
Pictured: A Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location (file photo)
Previously, J-16s have been used for incursion flights into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Experts have said it is among China’s preferred jets for testing the island’s air defences.
The ongoing operations around Taiwan have also involved KJ-500 early warning and surveillance aircraft, which provide 360-degree radar coverage, according to defence intelligence company Janes.
State media have also reported the deployment of Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, which have previously been used in patrols over the East China Sea.
People’s Liberation Army land forces have also been roped into what China terms the ‘Joint Sword’ drills, using YJ-12B land-based anti-ship missiles in simulated strikes against Taiwan.
Little information about the YJ-12B is publicly available. It is a land-based version of the YJ-12 missile, which has a range of 460 kilometres and is able to carry both nuclear and conventional warheads, according to the US-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.
The DF-11 and DF-15 short-range conventional ballistic missiles have also featured in this week’s drills.
Both are decades-old models, with the newer DF-15 capable of ‘striking Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and northern India from mainland China’, according to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Official broadcaster CCTV said on Sunday that China’s forces ‘simulated joint precision strikes’ on Taiwan.
China sent destroyers and frigates in Taiwan’s direction over the weekend, with the Taiwanese defence ministry on Sunday saying it had detected 11 Chinese warships around the island.
These have included the type 052C destroyer and the Type 054A frigate.
The 054A is designed for anti-air combat and equipped with HQ-16 medium-range surface-air missiles capable of striking aerial targets 50 kilometres away, according to defence industry publication Naval Technology.
Pictured: A jet fighter takes off from China’s Shandong aircraft carrier, over Pacific Ocean waters, south of Okinawa prefecture, Japan, in this handout released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan April 10
And hours before Tsai’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles last Wednesday, China sent its Shandong aircraft carrier through Taiwan’s southeastern waters on its way to the western Pacific.
The Shandong is one of two Chinese aircraft carriers, and the only one to be fully domestically built. It was commissioned into the PLA Navy in December 2019.
Although not officially part of ‘Joint Sword’, Chinese state media said the Shandong’s voyage last week showed ‘the carrier is fully ready for far sea operations and safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity’.
Reporting by AFP
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