Taiwan resumes military exercises, fearing pressure from Beijing

Beijing’s shadow and threats bother Taiwan. The island is trying to flex its muscles, hoping to discourage a China about to bite. To this end, the Taiwanese military conducted a new live-fire exercise on Thursday. Lu Wei Jie, a spokesman for the Army’s Eighth Corps, said the Taiwanese troops fired howitzers and flares as part of the defensive exercises.

He added that these maneuvers in Pingtung County (south), started at 8:30 am (2:30 am French time), and lasted for an hour. A live broadcast showed artillery pieces lined up on the coast and soldiers, divided into units, firing howitzers one by one into the sea. Taiwan has already conducted military exercises on Tuesday in Pingtung.

Invasion training

According to the military, hundreds of men took part in these two courses. The authorities downplayed the scope of these exercises, making sure that these exercises were indeed scheduled and were not in response to those of China. The events in Beijing erupted after a visit to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who launched multi-day air and sea exercises around the island.

Taipei accused China of using Nancy Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to engage in invasion. Wei Jie explained that Taiwan’s new exercises on Thursday have two “objectives”, “ensure the good condition and well-maintained artillery” and “confirm the results” of previous military exercises organized in 2021.

“Preparing for war”

For its part, Beijing announced, on Wednesday, the end of its maneuvers, declaring that its forces “carried out various tasks” in the Taiwan Strait, while pledging to continue guarding its waters. In the same statement, China confirmed that it would “continue to conduct military exercises and prepare for war.”

Meanwhile, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said in a white paper on Wednesday that Beijing “does not give up the use of force” against its neighbor and retains “the possibility of taking all necessary measures.” “We are ready to create a wide space (for cooperation) in order to achieve peaceful reunification,” the document said. But we will not leave any room for separatist actions aimed at the false independence of Taiwan. ยป

“One country, two systems”

The Taiwanese foreign ministry, in agreement with China’s highest policy-making body, rejected the “one country, two systems” model proposed by Beijing for the island. “China’s entire statement is completely inconsistent with the status quo and the reality of the Straits,” ministry spokeswoman Guan Ou said at a press conference.

The expression “one country, two systems” refers to the principle that is supposed to offer some autonomy to the Chinese regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The Communist Party of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office responded in a statement Thursday to the Taiwan exercises by downplaying the “rebellious actions by Taipei” that “cannot stop the historical trend of reunification” with mainland China.

From authoritarian rule to vibrant democracy

In Washington, Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday she was “very proud” of her visit to Taiwan, stressing that Beijing had used it as an “excuse” to launch its military exercises. “We will not let Beijing isolate Taiwan,” she told reporters. Taiwan regularly conducts military exercises to simulate a Chinese invasion. And last month, it trained to fend off a landing as part of “Operation Joint Interception” during its biggest annual drill.

Since the late 1990s, the island has evolved from authoritarian rule to a vibrant democracy, and a distinct Taiwanese identity has emerged. Relations across the Strait have deteriorated dramatically since Tsai Ing-wen became president of Taiwan in 2016. Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party do not consider Taiwan a part of China. Their design falls under Beijing’s broad definition of Taiwanese separatism, which includes those who argue that the island has an identity separate from the mainland.

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