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Beijing holds assault drills near Chinese Taipei in response to ‘provocations’

China’s Harbin guided-missile destroyer is seen during naval exercise in the South China Sea. (File photo by AP)

Beijing has held military assault drills near Chinese Taipei, in what its armed forces described as a show of force against “provocations” and “external interference” in the mainland’s affairs.

China’s military said in a statement on Tuesday that it had dispatched warships, anti-submarine aircraft and fighter to carry out “joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops” in the southwest and southeast of the self-ruled island.

It said that Taipei and the United States had “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 said. “It is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces.”

Chinese Taipei falls under China’s sovereignty as part of the ‘One China’ policy. Almost all world countries, including the US, recognize that sovereignty. 

But, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has maintained and recently ramped up diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei. Washington is also the island’s largest weapon supplier.

US warships also periodically sail in the Taiwan Strait, often triggering angry responses from Beijing.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, which has independence aspirations, views the island as a sovereign state and rejects the ‘One China’ principle.

However, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has pledged a “complete reunification” with the island has promised d to “smash” any attempts at formal independence.

In an indirect reference to mainland China, the island’s Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Tuesday that Taipei tells “foreign forces who want to invade and grab Taiwan — don’t be deluded.”

He said, “There are powerful countries that want to swallow up Taiwan using force, and likewise we are also not afraid of being killed or imprisoned.”

In a provocative move earlier this month, Washington approved a new arms sale package to Taipei, including an artillery system, valued at up to $750 million.

China has repeatedly said US arms sales run counter to international law and basic principles in international relations, and violate the ‘One China’ principle.

In response, Beijing has ramped up military patrols and drills near the island in recent months.

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