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China stages military exercises near Taiwan as tensions escalate

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China has sent warplanes almost every day in January to conduct military exercises near Taiwan as preparation for a possible war, reports have claimed.

The Chinese military aircraft were spotted entering Taiwanese airspace on a total of 30 different days last month, according to Taiwanese media.

Beijing’s alleged intrusions were considered as ‘preparing to fight the possible war through exercises’, warned Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times.

China has sent warplanes almost every day in January to conduct military exercises near Taiwan as preparation for a possible war, reports say. In this file photo on October 1, 2019, Chinese military aircraft fly in formation during a parade in Beijing

China has sent warplanes almost every day in January to conduct military exercises near Taiwan as preparation for a possible war, reports say. In this file photo on October 1, 2019, Chinese military aircraft fly in formation during a parade in Beijing

The stark warning comes as China has increased tensions with Taiwan by stepping up military activities and declaring that ‘independence means war’ last week.

Taiwan has been claimed by China as one of its territories, with Beijing having deployed fighter jets and bombers into the island’s airspace as recently as the weekend.

China believes Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a formal declaration of independence, but Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said that the island is already an independent nation.

Despite this, China has ramped up military drills near the island in recent weeks, including deploying 15 fighter jets into Taiwan airspace twice in two days last month.

According to Taiwanese newspaper The Liberty Times, Chinese warplanes were spotted intruding the island’s south-western airspace three times on Sunday by Taiwan air force’s open radio communication and open-source flight trackers.

This means there was only one day in January when Chinese military aircraft were not observed by open-source intelligence in the region, the outlet said in a separate report

China has increased tensions with Taiwan by stepping up military activities and declaring that 'independence means war' last week. This photo taken on January 4, 2021 shows Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers assembling during military training in Xinjiang

China has increased tensions with Taiwan by stepping up military activities and declaring that ‘independence means war’ last week. This photo taken on January 4, 2021 shows Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers assembling during military training in Xinjiang

In response to the Taiwanese reports, Global Times wrote in an article yesterday that Beijing is preparing for a possible war by sending warplanes and stepping up military exercises near Taiwan.

Citing an analyst, the nationalist tabloid claimed the Chinese mainland ‘has sent a clear warning by formulating easily understandable words that ‘Taiwan independence’ means war’.

‘… and is also making concrete steps to prepare for one if it happens by conducting intensive exercises in the Taiwan Straits,’ the outlet added.

It also warned ‘foreign and Taiwan secessionist forces should not miscalculate’ the Chinese mainland which is ‘both talking the talk and walking the walk’.

‘The mainland is both talking the talk and walking the walk, so foreign and Taiwan secessionist forces should not make the strategic error of believing that the mainland dare not use force when needed, and such miscalculation could lead to a result neither side would like to see,’ the report said.

Taiwan said China should think carefully and not underestimate the island's determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy. Pictured: Taiwan Navy special forces take part in counter-infiltration operations during a drill on January 27, 2021

Taiwan said China should think carefully and not underestimate the island’s determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy. Pictured: Taiwan Navy special forces take part in counter-infiltration operations during a drill on January 27, 2021

The Global Times article came after Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said on Thursday during a monthly news briefing that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, declaring that ‘independence means war’.

He said: ‘The military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security.

‘They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.’

Wu Qian also said that there are only a ‘handful’ of people in Taiwan that are seeking independence from China for the island.

To those people, he warned: ‘Those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war.’

The Global Times article came after Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian (pictured on June 29, 2017) said on Thursday during a monthly news briefing that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, sending a stark warning that 'independence means war'

The Global Times article came after Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian (pictured on June 29, 2017) said on Thursday during a monthly news briefing that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, sending a stark warning that ‘independence means war’

In response, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said China should think carefully and not underestimate the island’s determination to defend its sovereignty and uphold freedom and democracy.

Wu’s statement came a day after Beijing defended the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercises as necessary to ‘safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity’.

The PLA exercises ‘solemnly warn external forces to stop interference and sternly warn… separatist forces to stop provocations’, said Ms Zhu Fenglian, spokesman for Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on Wednesday.

She also stressed that China reserves the option to ‘take all measures’ to deal with interference, including the use of force. 

According to Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, the Chinese air force flew 15 military aircraft into Taiwan on January 24.

The day before, several fighter jets and bombers had also been sent into Taiwan airspace.

In response to the Chinese aircraft, Taiwan deployed fighters and air defence systems as well as broadcasting warning messages over the radio.

It is believed the movement of the Chinese aircraft was a chilling message directed at Joe Biden, with the new President only having been in office a few days and the de-facto Taiwan ambassador being invited to Biden’s inauguration.

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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