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Global Times

PLA holds joint drills around Taiwan over US senator visit: Chinese military

Global Times

By Liu Xuanzun and Liu Xin Published: Jul 08, 2022 11:43 AM

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted large-scale drills around Taiwan in response to a US senator's recent visit to the island, both the Chinese military and the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday, while the Taiwan Affairs Office expressed opposition to the US' interfering with the Taiwan question.

Analysts urged the US to stop making provocations by using the question of the island of Taiwan, since such moves do not fit the shared purposes of the two militaries to avoid escalating disputes into clashes or confrontations.

Recently, the PLA Eastern Theater Command organized cross-service joint alert patrol and realistic combat-scenario exercises in maritime and aerial spaces around the Taiwan Straits, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesperson from the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement on Friday.

The US has been making repeated moves over the Taiwan question and sending support to the "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces, which is a completely futile move that can only disrupt peace and escalate tensions in the Taiwan Straits, Shi said.

Taiwan is a part of China, Shi stressed. The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command are on high alert at all times and will continuously enhance combat preparedness through intensified training to firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security as well as peace and stability in the region, and resolutely crush any "Taiwan independence" attempts, he said.

A delegation headed by US Senator Rick Scott arrived in Taiwan on Thursday, as the group is scheduled to meet Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen among oth-er Taiwan authority leaders during their visit which will last until Saturday, media on the island reported on Thursday.

The US move seriously violates the one-China principle and regulations in the China-US three joint communiques, badly damages the political basis of China-US relations, severely sabotages China-US ties and mil-to-mil ties, and caused escalations to tensions in the Taiwan Straits, said Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China's Ministry of National Defense, in a statement on Friday. "China resolutely opposes this."

In response to this vile act of provocative US-Taiwan collusion, the PLA Eastern Theater Command recently organized cross-service joint alert patrol and realistic combat-scenario exercises in maritime and aerial spaces around the Taiwan Straits, Wu said, noting that the Taiwan question is purely one of Chinese internal affairs. The reunification of China is bound to happen, and foreign interference forces will in no way succeed.

The PLA is ready for combat all times, and will take any necessary measures to resolutely thwart foreign interference and "Taiwan independence" secessionist attempts in order to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, Wu said.

On the same day, Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the press conference that the PLA Eastern Theater Command's patrols and drills around Taiwan target external interference and "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces.

Zhao noted that China will firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and resolutely crush any "Taiwan independence" attempts.

On Friday, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian also expressed opposition to the US delegation's visit to the island of Taiwan and said that it is dangerous behavior to indulge the secessionists in the island. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s attempt to "draw outside anti-China forces to seek independence for the island is doomed to fail."

Recently, the US has intensified efforts to hype the question of the island of Taiwan, especially after the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the US and its allies have also been conducting frequent close-in reconnaissance close to China's territorial waters, which have increased air and maritime tensions and added to the risk of regional clashes, analysts said.

In response, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, another spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, told a press conference on June 30 that the PLA will take countermeasures against every provocation and those who come without invita-tion will bear the consequences.

Some military experts reached by the Global Times said that the two militaries are in a crucial period and need to have more communication to avoid miscalculations, which is why after Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe had his first face-to-face meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Singapore on June 10, Chief of the Central Military Commission (CMC) Joint Staff Department, General Li Zuocheng, spoke on Thursday night with US General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff on Thursday.

During the meeting, Li urged the US to abide by the one-China principle and the provisions of the three joint communiqués, stop turning the clock back on histo-ry and stop the military collusion between the US and the island of Taiwan to avoid undermining China-US relations and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Li also noted that the Chinese military will resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

A military expert, who asked for anonymity, told the Global Times that the US is more worried that a frontline standoff will lead to unexpected clashes and escalated incidents. It wants to further know about China's bottom line and the PLA's deployments on the frontline, and improving practical communications will decrease miscalculations.

The last talks between Li and Milley took place 18 months ago on January 8, 2021. Before Wei and Austin's meeting in Singapore, they talked via phone on April 20, while the talks before the April one took place in August 2020.

Experts said that after Wei and Austin's first phone conversation in April, the two militaries have been engaged in more frequent communications, and maintaining engagement is better than not talking to each other. The intensified interactions are meaningful for the two militaries to avoid escalating disputes to clashes or confrontations, and the bilateral relations between China and the US are significant to regional and world stability.

Although improving talks and avoiding clashes and confrontations fit the interests of China and the US, the latter will not give up its strategy of seeing China as its most important strategic competitor and major challenge, experts said, warning that further provocations to hollow out the one-China policy will undermine the trust between the two militaries and damage bilateral relations.

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