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Taipie, April 8 – China announced on Saturday the starting of three days of military exercises around Taiwan, a move that comes just days after the island’s president met the US House Speaker in defiance of repeated threats by Beijing.
The People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theater Command announced the drills Saturday, describing them as “a serious warning against the Taiwan separatist forces’ collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”, reports CNN.
The exercises, dubbed “United Sharp Sword”, would feature “combat ready patrols and exercises in and around the Taiwan Strait, and to the north, south and east of Taiwan and the sea and airspace as planned,” Senior Colonel Shi Yi of the Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on Saturday.
The drills would focus on the country’s “capabilities to seize control of sea, air and information under the support of our joint combat system”, CNN quoted the PLA as saying.
Soon after the announcement by China, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it had detected a total of 42 Chinese warplanes over the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from the Chinese mainland.
It said 29 Chinese warplanes had crossed the median line in the strait into its air defence identification zone.
It added that eight PLA vessels had been spotted in the strait, CNN reported.
The drills come a day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a 10-day visit to Central America and the US where she met House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.