Taiwan announced its own live fire drills Tuesday, a day after China’s military announced it is extending ongoing exercises surrounding the democratic-run island past the scheduled end date of Sunday. Taiwan’s defense ministry said the new defensive drills are intent on simulating repelling an attack of the island in the event of a Chinese invasion.
However, Taiwanese officials are emphasizing that “Tuesday’s drills, which involved soldiers firing howitzer artillery out to sea, had long been scheduled and were not a reaction to China’s unprecedented war games.” It’s said to have involved hundreds of troops and about 40 howitzers. The Taiwanese drills reportedly last only an hour, China’s Eastern Theater Command announced its exercises will continue indefinitely. The PLA, along with state media, is now openly describing the games as focused on conducting a “joint blockade”.
PLA Eastern Theater Command continued its joint combat training exercises on Tuesday in the waters and airspace around #Taiwan Island, focusing on joint blockade and support. (file pic) pic.twitter.com/o4bCiIdmSv
— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) August 9, 2022
Meanwhile there continued to be some 10 military vessels on each side of the median line in the contested Taiwan Strait, as the Chinese and Taiwanese navies are still reported locked in a standoff, according to Reuters.
The PLA on Monday said it focused on joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations, while on Tuesday a spokesperson reaffirmed it plans to continue the drills in waters and airspace around Taiwan, with a focus on “blockades and resupply logistics.”
Meanwhile Taiwan is increasingly worried that China is set to invade:
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday that “China has used the drills and its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan.”
“China’s real intention is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the entire region,” Wu said.
“It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation, and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan,” he continued.
“After the drills conclude, China may try to routinise its action in an attempt to wreck the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said while urging greater international support given the threatening war games present “a clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan.” He further charged that Beijing is trying to erase the median line given that its ships are continually breaching it.
Biden the day prior appeared to downplay China’s aggression and intent in response to the Pelosi trip, telling reporters, “I’m not worried, but I’m concerned… But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more” – appearing to state his belief that this is not preparation for an invasion. Quad members US, Japan and Australia have condemned the drills as a threat to peace and security in the Taiwan Strait.
As mainland China continued joint military drills around Taiwan on August 9, 2022, people in Taipei were cautiously confident about Taiwan’s defence capabilities. pic.twitter.com/gLpiKMPyww
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) August 9, 2022
House Speaker Pelosi on Tuesday weighed in further on her trip, saying that China’s president Xi Jinping is in a “fragile place” politically and on the world stage and so is “acting like a scared bully”. While a number of Republican hawks have come out and voiced public support for her controversial trip to Taiwan, Biden has yet to do so, after previously citing the Pentagon as saying it was “not a good idea”.