China’s military began practicing the encirclement of Taiwan during a three-day military exercise.
Beijing, which considers Taiwan a separatist province of China, called the operation a “stern warning” to the island’s government.
The drills began hours after President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense reported that 42 Chinese military aircraft and eight ships crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
The line is an unofficial dividing line between the territory of China and Taiwan.
Chinese state media said the military exercise will “simultaneously organize patrolling and advancing around the island of Taiwan, forming a circular encirclement and deterrence position.”
It added that “long-range missile artillery, naval destroyers, missile boats, air force fighters, bombers, jamming systems and tankers” were deployed by the Chinese military.
Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state with its own constitution and leaders.
But China views the island as a breakaway province that will eventually be brought under Beijing’s control – by force if necessary. Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “reunification” with Taiwan “must be carried out.”
While China often conducts exercises around Taiwan, the “encirclement” is seen as a response to Taiwanese President Tsai’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday.
President Tsai said on Saturday that her government would continue to work with the US and other democracies as the island faces “continued authoritarian expansionism” by China.
She stated this during a meeting with the delegation of the US Congress in Taipei led by the chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives, Michael McCaul.
Mr. McCall said Washington was working to supply Taiwan with weapons “not for war, but for peace.”
But in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, residents seemed unfazed by China’s latest maneuvers.
“I think a lot of Taiwanese are used to it, it feels like here we go again!” Jim Tsai said.
Meanwhile, Michael Chuang said, “Them [Китаю], seem to enjoy doing so, circling Taiwan as if it were theirs. Now I’m used to it.
“If they invade, we still won’t be able to escape. Let’s see what the future brings and go from there.”
China’s three-day operation around Taiwan called “United Sharp Sword” will continue until Monday, the command in the Eastern theater of operations of the People’s Liberation Army (NOVA) said.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said it would respond to China’s drills “calmly, rationally and seriously” based on the principle of “preventing the escalation of conflicts and disputes to protect our national sovereignty and security.”
Last August, Beijing conducted nearly a week of exercises around Taiwan after Kevin McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taipei.
The drills, China’s biggest show of force in recent years, included the deployment of fighter jets and warships, as well as the launch of ballistic missiles.