China dispatches warships and troops towards Taiwan while world’s back is turned

China: Video warns Japan over Taiwan intervention

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The confirmation came just hours after the editor of a state-run Chinese newspaper suggested China would “immediately” start a war with the United States if a US Senator’s claims over the number of US troops on were accurate, in a stark illustration of spiking tensions. , which Beijing claims to be Chinese territory in accordance with its One China policy, has complained of repeated People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills in its vicinity in the past two years or so, part of a pressure campaign to force the island to accept ‘s sovereignty.

In a brief statement that contained no specific details, the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command said warships, anti-submarine aircraft and fighter jets had been dispatched close to Taiwan to carry out “joint fire assault and other drills using actual troops”.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry gave a brief response, saying: “The nation’s military has a full grasp and has made a full assessment of the situation in the Taiwan Strait region, as well as related developments at sea and in the air, and is prepared for various responses”.

A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning said China’s air force had carried out a “capturing air supremacy” drill, using their advanced J-16 fighters.

XI Jinping China

XI Jinping’s China has launched military drills while the world is distracted (Image: GETTY)


A main battle tank attached to a tank detachment with a PLA Army regiment (Image: NC)

The insider added: “In addition to seeking air supremacy over Taiwan, they have also been conducting frequent electronic reconnaissance and electronic interference operations.”

The source said Taiwan believed China, led by President Xi Jinping, was trying to gather electronic signals from US and Japanese aircraft so that they can “paralyse reinforcing aircraft including F-35s in a war.”

The PLA statement said both the US and Taiwan had “repeatedly colluded in provocation and sent serious wrong signals, severely infringing upon China’s sovereignty, and severely undermining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

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A cluster of attack helicopters attached to a brigade under the PLA 81st Group Army (Image: NC)

It added: “This exercise is a necessary action based on the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and the need to safeguard national sovereignty.

“It is a solemn response to external interference and provocations by Taiwan independence forces.”

While the statement provided no precise location for the drills, many Chinese exercises take place near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top part of the South China Sea, and around the Bashi Channel off southern Taiwan that leads to the Pacific.


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Amphibious armoured vehicles with the PLA Navy (Image: NC)


Amphibious armoured vehicles attached to a brigade of the PLA Navy Marine Corps (Image: NC)

It was not immediately clear what set off the flurry of Chinese military activity, though earlier this month the United States approved a new arms sale package to Taiwan, an artillery system valued at up to $750million.

China believes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen is a separatist plotting a formal declaration of independence, something which would represent a red line for Beijing, and which experts predict would trigger a full-scale invasion.

Tsai said Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

South China Sea mapped

South China Sea mapped (Image: Express)

Washington has voiced its concern about China’s pattern of intimidation in the region, including towards Taiwan, reiterating that US commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid”.

China has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Speaking yesterday, Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Chinese state-run Global Times, said the US and Taiwan “must explain” figures posted by US Senator John Cornyn claiming 30,000 US troops were on the island.

Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s President (Image: GETTY)

Hu wrote: “If it is true that the US has 30,000, or less than that number, soldiers stationed on the Taiwan island, Chinese military forces will immediately launch a war to eliminate and expel the US soldiers.”

He later added: “Someone said that John Cornyn mistook that number by using the number of previous US troops stationed on Taiwan island before China and the US set up diplomatic relations.

“I think the senator is not confused, and he wants to test our response. My answer to him is war.”

China’s latest military exercises come at a time when the West is focused on Afghanistan following the rapid overthrow by the Taliban of President Ashraf Ghani, who has since fled the country.

William Murphy

William Murphy

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