China moves aircraft carrier near Taiwan and threatens ‘regular’ drills as tensions mount
China is holding new naval drills involving an aircraft carrier battlegroup near Taiwan, and has threatened to make such exercises a regular occurrence in future amid mounting tensions between Beijing and Taipei.
China has stepped up its military activities near the island in the past year, refusing to rule out a military invasion and expressing strong opposition to a growing closeness between the US and Taiwan.
In a statement, China’s navy said that the exercises involving the Liaoning aircraft carrier were routine drills aimed at enhancing “its capability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests.”
“In the future, the PLA navy will continue to carry out such exercise and training activities on a regular basis as planned,” it said.
Taiwan has accused China of bolstering its ability to attack the island, which is self-governing but claimed by Beijing as a breakaway province. The Taiwanese defence ministry said in a review last month that Beijing was deploying “grey zone” warfare tactics to subdue Taiwan and wear it down with repeated drills, according to Reuters.
Last month, 20 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the largest single incursion yet.
Faced with China’s aggressive posturing, Taiwan has moved to revamp its armed forces. President Tsai Ing-wen’s government is strengthening Taiwan’s reserves and increased the country’s defence budget by 10 per cent last year.
China’s president Xi Jinping has taken an increasingly aggressive stance on the issue of Taiwan, threatening to use force, if needed, to bring the island into the country’s fold. Beijing has also said recently that attempts by Taiwan to pursue independence “mean war”.
It defended its increased military activities in January by saying they were necessary “to safeguard national sovereignty”.
China has also warned the US over its ties with Taiwan in recent months. It denounced an agreement between the US and Taiwanese coast guards, saying it violated Washington’s commitments to Beijing. And after an American ambassador visited Taiwan, China warned the US against crossing its “red line”.