'Total encirclement' of Taiwan: 11 Chinese warships and 70 planes detected
China simulated targeted bombardment of Taiwan on Sunday, the second day of a “total encirclement” exercise scheduled until Monday and presented by Beijing as a “serious warning” to the island after a meeting of its president with a senior American official.
Called “Joint Sword”, the operation was denounced by Taiwan and the United States called on Beijing to “restraint”, ensuring that it kept its channels of communication with China “open”.
In a interview carried out before the maneuvers and published on Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need not to “enter into a block-to-block logic”. Europe must not “be a follower” of the United States or China on Taiwan, he told the French business daily Les Échos.
The Chinese maneuvers were launched after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing wen met Wednesday in California with Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
They aim to measure China's ability to ” take control of the sea, airspace and information (…) in order to create deterrence and total encirclement” of Taiwan, Chinese state television said on Saturday.
< p>On Sunday, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said it had detected 11 Chinese warships and 70 aircraft around the island, an armada broadly similar to that identified on Saturday.
He said combat aircraft and bombers were among the aircraft spotted by its “Intelligence and Reconnaissance System.”
Also on Sunday, the Chinese military simulated 'precision strikes' against 'key targets on the island of Taiwan and surrounding waters', involving dozens of aircraft and ground troops, according to state television. State.
Destroyers, fast missile launchers, fighter jets, tankers and jammers are mobilized for the Chinese maneuvers.
“I am a little worried, I would be lying to you if I told you otherwise, ”Donald Ho, 73, told AFP on Sunday, met in a park in Taipei. “If there is war, both sides will suffer greatly.”
China regards Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, as a province it has yet to reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
The maneuvers “serve as serious warnings against the collusion between the separatist forces seeking + the independence of Taiwan + and the external forces, as well as their provocative activities”, warned a spokesman for the Chinese army, Shi Yi.
Washington reiterated Saturday its call to “not change the status quo.”
“We are confident that we have sufficient resources and capabilities in the region to ensure peace and stability,” the State Department assured.
Live-fire exercises will be held Monday in the Taiwan Strait near the coast of Fujian (east), the province facing the island, according to local Chinese maritime authorities.
These exercises, which have an “operational” dimension, are intended to demonstrate that the Chinese army will be ready, “if the provocations intensify”, to “settle once and for all the question of Taiwan”, judge with the AFP military expert Song Zhongping.
AFP did not see any increased military activity Sunday on the northern coast of Pingtan, near where the live-fire exercises are to take place.< /p>
Along a road overlooking the ocean, Lin Ren plays the Chinese anthem while selling coffee in the back of his car. “I think they (the exercises) clearly show them that we have the means (…) to unify” the territory, the 29-year-old told AFP.
” I am not afraid that there will be an armed conflict this time”, he adds, however, judging the maneuvers “largely symbolic”.
Saturday, President Tsai Ing-wen denounced China's “authoritarian expansionism” and assured that Taiwan would “continue to work with the United States and other countries (…) to uphold the values of freedom and democracy”.
China views with displeasure the rapprochement in recent years between the Taiwanese authorities and the United States which, despite the absence of official relations, provides the island with substantial military support.
For Beijing, these military exercises are “a necessity” to “score points politically” with the Chinese people, James Char, a Chinese military expert at Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore, told AFP.
< p>However, an escalation of the same intensity as that of August 2022 seems a priori ruled out, according to Mr. Char.
Last summer, China had engaged in unprecedented military maneuvers around Taiwan and fired missiles in response to a visit to the island by Democrat Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House.
The United States recognized the People's Republic of China in 1979 and should not theory have no official contact with the Republic of China (Taiwan) under the “one China principle” championed by Beijing.