Updated May 23, 2024 - World

China's military holds "punishment" drills around Taiwan

Chinese military helicopters fly over Pingtan island, the closest point in China to Taiwan on May 19

A Chinese military helicopter flying over Pingtan Island, the closest point in China to Taiwan's main island, in Fujian province on May 19, 2024. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan's Defense Ministry was on alert after China's military announced two days of drills around the self-governing island, three days after the inauguration of Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te.

Why it matters: Chinese military spokesperson Li Xi said the drills should serve as a "strong punishment for the separatist acts" after the election on the democratic island Beijing claims is part of its territory and also a "stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces," per state media.

Between the lines: "This feels like a prelude to more and bigger military drills to come," said Wen-Ti Sung, a political analyst and China expert at the Australian National University, on X.

  • "This is a signal to shape international narratives. The real 'punishment' against Taiwan may be yet to come, for it takes time."

What they're saying: Taiwan's Defense Ministry said in a video posted to X that it had deployed its aerial, naval and land units in response to Beijing's announcement.

  • The ministry emphasized in a post condemning Beijing's action that it sought no conflict, but stood ready "with firm will and restraint."

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of the response from Taiwan's Defense Ministry.

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