Apr 8, 2023 - World

China holds military drills around Taiwan after Tsai-McCarthy meeting

A Chinese military jet flies over Pingtan Island, one of mainland China's closest points from Taiwan, in Fujian province in August. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

China on Saturday began three days of military drills around Taiwan in what the People’s Liberation Army called a "stern warning" after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited the U.S. and met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Driving the news: China had sent several warships and 71 planes near Taiwan, Taiwan's Defense Ministry said as of Saturday afternoon local time. At least 45 planes had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

  • China had warned of a "severe confrontation" ahead of Tsai's trip to the Americas, which included stops in New York and California, where she met with McCarthy on Wednesday.
  • The White House had attempted to tamp down the tensions by noting that Tsai's recent predecessors had transited through the U.S. and that Tsai herself has been to the U.S. six times before her latest trip without much incident.

What they're saying: “This is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation between the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and external forces,” the PLA said in a statement Saturday.

  • It also called the "Joint Sword" exercises "a necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Taiwan's Defense Ministry blamed the CCP for "deliberately" creating tensions in the Taiwan Strait, which has "severely damaged peace and the stability" in the region.

Between the lines: While China's response to the McCarthy-Tsai meeting is reminiscent of its reaction to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan last year, the military exercises appear at least so far to be smaller in scope, the New York Times notes.

  • The PLA has so far not indicated that it plans to repeat the missile drills held in response to Pelosi's visits.

The big picture: Some analysts believe the U.S. and China are on course for a collision over Taiwan within the next several years, Axios' Dave Lawler and Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian write.

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to bring the self-governing island under Beijing's control, by force if necessary.
  • President Biden, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that the U.S. would defend Taiwan. The U.S. has also stepped up arms sales to the island.
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