Following a two-month period which already saw a very noticeable uptick in Chinese PLA military drills in the regions of the Yellow, South China, and East China Seas, Beijing has announced the start of five simultaneous military drills which it says are "directed at Taiwan".
It's only the second time in recent months that this many exercises have been triggered all at once in four seas.
Reuters describes that "Two of the exercises are being held near the Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea, one in the East China Sea, and one in further north in the Bohai Sea, the Maritime Safety Administration said in notices on its website."
And drills in the Yellow Sea are featuring live-fire exercises from Monday through Wednesday. The maritime notices issued by the PLA include bans on all civilian ships entering the areas where drills are being conducted.
One month ago a major incident unfolded after an American U-2 spy plane allegedly entered a Chinese military 'no fly zone' in order to monitor PLA drills. Beijing had slammed the "naked provocation" and issued a veiled threat that in future exercises the US aircraft could be shot down.
According to Reuters, Beijing has specifically framed the new drills as in response to "threats" centered on Taiwan:
China has also held frequent military activities near Chinese-claimed Taiwan and has taken the usual step of declaring that such drills are directed at Taiwan.
Washington has conducted two recent high level diplomatic visits to Taipei, with Taiwan's military also recently updating its rules of engagement to say it has a right to "counterattack" Chinese warplanes.
“In the face of high-frequency harassment and threats from the enemy’s warships and warplanes recently… the military clearly redefined the contingency handling regulations concerning the first strike as our right to self-defense and counter-attack,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said a week ago.