Taiwan condemns PLA drills as ‘irrational provocation’ following Lai’s inauguration

Taiwan’s defence ministry condemned China’s military exercises near its vicinity as “irrational provocation,” escalating tensions following President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.

In a tense escalation of regional tensions, Taiwan’s defence ministry issued a stern rebuke against China on Thursday, denouncing what it termed as “irrational provocation” as Chinese military exercises unfolded near Taiwan’s vicinity shortly after President Lai Ching-te’s inauguration.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) labelled the two-day drills initiated by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as “regrettable” and emphasized its vigilant monitoring of the situation. Taiwan reaffirmed its readiness to defend its sovereignty and security, deploying sea, air, and ground troops to address any potential threats.

The exercises, dubbed Joint Sword-2024A, were announced by the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, targeting areas surrounding Taiwan, including the Taiwan Strait and territories controlled by Taiwan such as Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin. These manoeuvres encompassed joint sea-air combat-readiness patrols, comprehensive battlefield control operations, and precision strikes on key targets.

Li Xi, the spokesperson for the theatre command, asserted that the exercises were a response to perceived separatist activities by “Taiwan independence” forces, without elaborating further on the nature of such activities.

China’s assertive stance comes in the wake of President Lai’s inauguration speech, where he reiterated Taiwan’s distinct identity from mainland China and emphasized the equality between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This assertion was met with swift criticism from Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office, which condemned Lai’s remarks as “separatist fallacies” aimed at sowing discord.

The latest military manoeuvres exacerbate existing tensions across the Taiwan Strait, heightening concerns over the potential for conflict escalation in the region.