China conducts military exercises around Taiwan as 'punishment' for separatists seeking independence

China has ramped up military exercises around the island of Taiwan, which CCP officials said were punishment for separatists seeking independence. As a result, Taiwan scrambled jets and put naval, land, and missile units on alert on Thursday, per CBS News.

This comes just days after the inauguration of Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party. The Chinese Communist Party claims Taiwan as part of its national territory, despite the fact that the Chinese government has never ruled there, and officials have threatened to reclaim the island as their own through military force.

In an effort to weaken Taiwan's defenses and scare its people, who adamantly support its de facto independence, the Chinese People's Liberation Army has been sending navy ships and fighter planes into the Taiwan Strait and other regions surrounding the island virtually every day. The island's Defense Ministry said in a statement that China's "irrational provocation has jeopardized regional peace and stability," and while they seek no conflict they "will not shy away from one."

"This pretext for conducting military exercises not only does not contribute to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, but also shows its hegemonic nature at heart," the statement said, according to the Associated Press.

The People's Liberation Army stated on its official Weibo account that the purpose of the land, navy, and air exercises near Taiwan is to evaluate the PLA units' naval and aviation capabilities as well as their ability to launch coordinated strikes that will take control of the battlefield.

"This is also a powerful punishment for the separatist forces seeking ‘independence’ and a serious warning to external forces for interference and provocation," the PLA's statement said.

A map of the planned exercise area, which includes Matsu and Kinmen, two outlying islands that are closer to the Chinese mainland than Taiwan, as well as five different locations around the main island of Taiwan, was also made public by the PLA. The Chinese Coast Guard also released a statement and said that it has assembled a fleet to conduct law enforcement exercises in the vicinity of two islands off its coast that are close to the Taiwanese-controlled island groupings of Kinmen and Matsu.

China called the military drills a punishment for the island's election results. The pro-China Nationalist Party gained a one-seat majority in the parliament, but the Democratic Progressive Party, which is pro-independence, has now ruled Taiwan for more than ten years.

Taiwan's President Lai Ching-te urged Beijing to cease its military intimidation in his inaugural speech on Monday. He also promised to "neither yield nor provoke" the leadership of the Communist Party on the mainland.

"Facing external challenges and threats, we will continue to maintain the values of freedom and democracy," Lai said Thursday, per the AP.

US Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Stephen Sklenka, the deputy commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command, called on Asia-Pacific nations to condemn the CCP's military exercises.

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