Taiwan conducts military exercises; China says that Sea

Taiwanese authorities began the second stage of their annual military exercises called Han Kuang (Glory of Han). The second stage uses lethal planes and firearms to “preserve the counter-attack and combat capability to repel a hypothetical attack by China”, says the island’s Defense Ministry.

About 20 military aircraft, including the F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo, Dassault Mirage 2000 and F-16V Block 20 fighter jets, in addition to all active and reserve personnel, were included in this Armed Forces simulation. Among the weapons tested are the American-made Stinger missiles, used by the Ukrainian army in the conflict against Russia.

In the capital Taipei and in the north of the territory, in the Wan’an region, exercises are also carried out with the civilian population, simulating a possible external attack. From 1:30 pm (local time) an alarm sounds declaring a curfew: all people must enter their homes or shelters, close doors and windows and turn off the lights.

For the mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-je, the war between Russia and Ukraine “makes us understand the importance of being vigilant in times of peace and prepared in case of war”, he told local media.

Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen will accompany maritime exercises that begin next Tuesday (26) with the launch of missiles.

“When the 38th Exercise Han Kuang began today, our airmen from the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing relocated their fighters while local anti-aircraft artillery units and guarded the surrounding airspace,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense posted on its official Twitter account.

The Chinese government responded to Taipei’s actions. Chancellor Wang Yi declared that the South China Sea must not become a “battleground”.

“All parties must firmly support efforts that lead to the peaceful settlement of disputes and oppose any action that generates tension and provokes confrontations in the region”, said the chancellor during the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea.

While China claims that Taiwan is part of its territory, the island claims to have independence and seeks recognition by international bodies and other nations. The United States often sells military equipment to Taiwan, an issue that has often been a source of tension between Washington and Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that supporting Taiwan’s independence is “playing with fire”.

US military movements

The last move in this direction took place on July 17, when the United States sent the destroyer (destroyer) USS Benfold to the Nasha Islands in the southeastern South China Sea. According to the US Seventh Fleet, it was a “common displacement” of weapons. This was the fourth time in 2022 and the second in just a week that the Pentagon has sent warships to Asian shores.

The President of the US Congress, Nancy Pelosi, is said to have planned a diplomatic trip to Taiwan in August, as reported by the Financial Times on July 18. The move was understood by China as a provocation. It would be the first visit by a US legislature president to Taiwan in 25 years – the last congressman to visit the Asian island was Republican Newt Gingrich in 1997.

In northern Taiwan, civilians also participate in military training with guidance on what to do in the face of a military attack / Sam Yeh / AFP

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian declared on July 19 that China would adopt “assertive” measures to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.

Following recommendations from the Chinese central government that Pelosi not visit the island, President Joe Biden also declared that he did not know what the “status” of Pelosi’s visit would be and said the Pentagon did not support the Democratic lawmaker’s decision.

Even though it has a policy of supporting Taiwan with weapons, in the diplomatic field, since 1979, the US maintains relations with mainland China, when it stopped recognizing Taiwan as a state.

Biden also said he intends to hold talks directly with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

Also read: Biden sends ex-military delegation to Taiwan; China says US support is ‘useless’

The South Sea issue

China claims more than 90% of the area covered by the South Sea and disputes control of the region with the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam. Beijing’s “one country, two systems” policy includes recognition of Taiwan and the Sea in the south of the country as Chinese territory.

The declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea was signed in 2002 by the Chinese government and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) — comprising Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam — to try to establish boundaries and protocols on the maritime axis.

On Monday (25), the Chinese foreign minister asked countries to develop new mechanisms of cooperation and friendship, stating that China defends good-neighbor diplomacy and wants to be a defender of maritime peace.

Editing: Arturo Hartmann

About Abhishek Pratap

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