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PLA drills 'irrational provocation' after Lai's inauguration: Taiwan MND

05/23/2024 11:37 AM
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President Lai Ching-te (third right) listens to Defense Minister Wellington Koo's briefing during an inspection of the armed forces in Taoyuan Thursday. CNA photo May 23, 2024
President Lai Ching-te (third right) listens to Defense Minister Wellington Koo's briefing during an inspection of the armed forces in Taoyuan Thursday. CNA photo May 23, 2024

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Taiwan's defense ministry said Thursday that China was engaging in "irrational provocation" by surrounding Taiwan during its current military exercises days after the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

The two-day exercises, which were launched Thursday by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), were "regrettable," Taiwan's defense ministry said in a press statement.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said it was closely monitoring the exercises and was taking response measures with its sea, air and ground troops, as it stands ready to safeguard Taiwan's security.

Such actions by China, initiated three days after Lai's inauguration on Monday, were a form of "irrational provocation" that would destabilize regional peace and security, the MND said.

The Presidential Office also expressed regret over China's unilateral military provocations that it said threaten Taiwan's democracy and freedom, as well as regional peace and stability.

Office spokesperson Kuo Ya-hui (郭雅慧) said safeguarding peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region is the current consensus of the international community and the shared responsibility of both sides of the strait.

Kuo assured the public that Taiwan's military and national security teams have a firm grasp of the situation and that people should rest assured that they can and will ensure the country's security.

The MND and the Presidential Office's statements were released after the PLA's Eastern Theater Command, responsible for safeguarding eastern China, the East China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, announced a series of joint military drills in the areas surrounding Taiwan from 7:45 a.m. Thursday.

Source: Ministry of National Defense

Codenamed Joint Sword-2024A, the drills focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets, Li Xi, spokesperson for the theater command, was quoted as saying in an English language report by China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

"The drills are being conducted in the Taiwan Strait, and the north, south and east of Taiwan Island, as well as areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin," according to the report.

Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin are all Taiwan-controlled territories in the Taiwan Strait close to China's southeast coast.

Li was quoted as saying that the drills also serve as a "strong punishment for the separatist acts of 'Taiwan independence' forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces," but he did not elaborate.

Following Lai's inaugural address on Monday, the People's Republic of China (PRC) said the speech was an attempt to promote Taiwanese independence, in particular Lai's statement that the Republic of China (ROC) -- Taiwan's official name -- and the PRC are not subordinate to each other.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office criticized Lai's speech as containing "separatist fallacies" and as an attempt to "incite division" among the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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