China holds military drills off Taiwan's coast in response to 'provocations'

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said that the "20 years of American blood, treasure, sweat, and tears in Afghanistan" is a testament to the US' ability to defend allies like Taiwan.

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Tuesday, China carried out assault drills off the southwest and southeast coasts of Taiwan in what the People's Liberation Army said was a response to "external interference" and "provocations."

In a statement to Reuters, the PLA's Eastern Theatre Command said that fighter jets, warships, and anti-submarine aircraft were dispatched near Taiwan to carry out "joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops."

One senior official familiar with Taiwan's security planning told Reuters that the Chinese Air Force was carrying out a "capturing air supremacy" drill using J-16 fighter jets.

"In addition to seeking air supremacy over Taiwan, they have also been conducting frequent electronic reconnaissance and electronic interference operations," they said.

"Taiwan believes China is trying to gather electronic signals from U.S. and Japanese aircraft so that they can 'paralyse reinforcing aircraft including F-35s in a war,' the source said, referring to the U.S.-operated stealth fighter," wrote Reuters.

In a White House press conference Tuesday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was questioned on whether the situation in Afghanistan with citizens feeling abandoned by the United States sends the message to Taiwan and other allies that the US would abandon them in their time of need.

Sullivan suggested that the "20 years of American blood, treasure, sweat, and tears in Afghanistan" would stand as testament to the United States' ability to defend allies like Taiwan from Chinese aggression.

Over the last two years, Taiwan has complained of repeated drills from the PLA in vicinity of the island, which Beijing claims is Chinese territory, and Taiwan claims the drills are part of a pressure campaign to force the acceptance of China's sovereignty.

During Tuesday's drill, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said that 11 Chinese aircraft, including six J-16 fighters and two H-6K bombers entered its air defense zone. The island scrambled its jets to issue a warning for Chinese planes to stay away.

According to Reuters, a recent PLA statement noted that recently, the United States and Taiwan have "repeatedly colluded in provocation and sent serious wrong signals, severely infringing upon China's sovereignty, and severely undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait."

"This exercise is a necessary action based on the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard national sovereignty. It is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces," said the statement.

The drill comes the day after Chinese state-run media issued a stark warning to Taiwan after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan's capital city of Kabul.

Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times reported that "From what happened in Afghanistan, those in Taiwan should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island's defense will collapse in hours and US military won't come to help."

"As a result," they continued, "the DPP will quickly surrender."


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