Current PLA Drills Around Taiwan Are Bigger In Scope Than Exercises Triggered By Pelosi

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, May 23, 2024 - 09:20 PM

As part of China's two days of encircling drills around Taiwan, its military has dispatched about 30 aircraft toward the island Thursday, most of which crossed the Median Line in the Taiwan Strait. About a dozen PLA naval ships have also surrounded the self-ruled island, and in response Taiwan's military has deployed warships to monitor the situation.

An additional dozen Chinese coast guard ships have been spotted close to Taiwan's disputed outlying islands as well, according to Taipei officials. PLA Naval Colonel Li Xi has called the exercises "a strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces."

Illustrative: prior PLA drills, via Reuters

As we reported previously, the large-scale drills are were launched just days after Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, was sworn into office at the start of the week. Beijing has called Lai a "dangerous separatist" who will ensure future "war and decline" for the island of Taiwan, which China has long claimed as its own.

CNN has cited Chinese state television to describe:

As part of the drills, dozens of Chinese fighter jets carrying live ammunition conducted mock strikes against “high-value military targets” of the “enemy” alongside destroyers, frigates and missile speedboats, according to China’s state broadcaster CCTV.

...China’s state broadcaster CCTV said multiple destroyer and frigate formations of the Eastern Theater Command Navy “maneuvered at high speed in multiple directions in the waters surrounding Taiwan, creating an omnidirectional approach in pushing toward the island.”

Dozens of fighter jets were also seen near the outlying islands which include Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin in the East China Sea.

China's CCTV broadcaster further detailed of the drills, "Under the support and cover of the Army and the Rocket Force, multiple types of aircraft were organized and loaded with live ammunition, flew to the predetermined airspace to establish multiple strike positions, and coordinated with destroyers, frigates, and missile speedboats to simulate attacking the ‘enemy’s’ high-value military targets and reconnaissance and patrol aircraft."

Regional analyst Arnaud Bertrand says that these ongoing two-day exercises are actually bigger in scale and scope compared to those which ensued in August 2022, in reaction to then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's ultra-provocative visit to Taiwan. His words follow below the maps:

Before: What the 2022 PLA 'encircling' drills in response to Nancy Pelosi's visit looked like...


Currently: The expanse of the ongoing Thurs-Fri PLA military drills surrounding Taiwan...

These are major military exercises by China around Taiwan, with more "exclusion zones" that are larger in scale than the exercises triggered by Pelosi's visit and closer to the island.

They are basically demonstrating that they can completely blockade the islands, with the zones placed in front of Taiwan's biggest ports (like Kaohsiung to the South, where a lot of Taiwan's navy is, or Hualien to the East), as well as protect the mainland at the same time. It's not a sign of imminent war, simply a reaction to Lai's presidential inauguration speech where he hinted at significant changes to the status quo towards independence, so much so that even the Financial Times ran an article saying that "China has a point" when they were warning about Lai's intention to change the status quo.

This is China telling him "don't get any ideas".