Tensions Mount as China Launches Military Drills Around Taiwan
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff Writer

May 23, 2024

China has initiated a series of military drills around Taiwan, only three days after the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing has labeled a “separatist.” This move could signal the beginning of a more extensive and prolonged series of exercises, according to military experts.

The Drills: A Show of Force

The Chinese military announced on Thursday the immediate commencement of two days of military drills encompassing Taiwan and its outlying islands, including Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin. This action is being presented as a “powerful punishment” for those promoting Taiwanese independence, under the codename Joint Sword-2024A. The exercises involve China’s army, navy, air force, and rocket force, illustrating a comprehensive demonstration of military might.

Chieh Chung, a researcher at the Taipei-based Association of Strategic Foresight, noted that the use of the letter “A” in the codename suggests the possibility of follow-up drills throughout the year. This is the first instance in recent years where Taiwan’s outlying islands have been included in such exercises, potentially simulating a full-scale invasion scenario.

Geopolitical Implications

This latest round of drills follows previous exercises in August 2022 and April 2023, which did not target the outlying islands. On Thursday morning, Chinese ships entered “restricted waters” around Dongyin in Matsu and Wuqiu in Kinmen. Chieh suggests that Beijing is using President Lai’s inaugural speech as a pretext to challenge the long-standing tacit agreement not to breach these waters, possibly indicating plans to regularly assert control over the area.

The strategic timing of these drills appears to be a direct response to Lai’s inauguration, aiming to pressure the United States and its allies into action to prevent further escalation. In his inaugural address, President Lai called on Beijing to acknowledge the reality of the Republic of China’s (Taiwan) existence and cease its political and military intimidation.

Expert Analysis

Chen Shih-min, an associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University, interprets these military exercises as a political maneuver by Beijing to express its dissatisfaction with Lai’s speech. The drills serve as a grand gesture to reiterate China’s claim over Taiwan, leveraging international media coverage to reinforce the message that “Taiwan is a part of China.”

Lin Ying-yu, an assistant professor at Tamkang University, concurs that the exercises are a reaction to Lai’s inaugural address, with a focus on joint sea-air combat readiness, but without the launch of missiles. Shu Hsiao-Huang, an associate research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, described the drills as provocative, noting that the designated areas are within Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and close to its contiguous zone, only 24 nautical miles off its coast.

International Reaction

Taiwan’s deputy defense minister Po Horng-huei condemned the drills as China’s attempt to assert control over the region, a move that the international community views as a unilateral challenge to regional peace and stability. This sentiment echoes the global response to China’s large-scale live-fire exercises in August 2022, following then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. During those exercises, China declared six zones as no-go areas, but no such zones have been declared this time, indicating Beijing’s intent to normalize its military presence in the region.

As the situation unfolds, the world watches closely, with concerns about the potential for increased tensions and the implications for regional stability. The military drills around Taiwan underscore the fragile nature of cross-strait relations and the broader geopolitical contest between China and the Western allies.


  • Central News Agency (CNA)
  • Statements from the Taipei-based Association of Strategic Foresight
  • Comments from National Taiwan University and Tamkang University experts
  • Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense
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