PLA's latest drills surrounding Taiwan Island largest in scale

Lin Congyi
2024-05-24 22:33:51

BEIJING, May 24 (Xinhua) -- The latest drills of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) surrounding Taiwan Island were the largest in scale, and vessels were getting closer to the island "than ever before," mainland military experts said Friday.

The PLA's Eastern Theater Command conducted joint military drills around Taiwan Island from Thursday to Friday. The exercise was carried out in the Taiwan Strait, to the north, south and east of Taiwan Island, and in areas around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.

It came in deterrence of Taiwan's new leader Lai Ching-te, whose debut speech on May 20 was filled with hostility and provocations, showing that he has adopted an even riskier and more radical approach toward "Taiwan independence" than his predecessors.

Meng Xiangqing, a professor from Beijing-based National Defense University, said on Friday that mainland's coast guard vessels entered the waters near the Wuqiu and Dongyin islands for the first time during the drills, completely shattering Taiwan authorities' notion of the so-called "restricted waters."

In an interview with Xinhua, Meng said the scale of the drills was larger than previous ones and the forces deployed were stronger, with long-range artillery systems, conventional missile systems, and fighter jets forming a "firepower package."

During the drills, a multi-directional, deep close-in simulation animation was released by the PLA, simulating PLA vessels approaching Taiwan Island. Meng said the vessels were unprecedentedly close to the coast of Taiwan.

This means that "there has been an increasing level of pressure against the space of Taiwan's so-called military defense, and this pressure has reached a significant level," Meng said.

Tong Zhen, an expert from the Academy of Military Sciences, said in the same interview that the drills mainly targeted the ringleaders and political center of "Taiwan independence," and involved simulated precision strikes on key political and military targets.

Strike drills were carried out against significant targets such as ports and airports to cut off the island's "blood vessels" and block out its "foreign aid regiments," Tong said.

The joint precision strikes feature the integration of the army, navy, air force and rocket force, as well as new-domain forces with new combat capabilities, Meng said, adding that the key objects of the drills were establishing dominance in the air, sea and information fields.

He highlighted the importance of the drills held off the east of Taiwan Island, the direction from which external intervention forces are likely to come.

"'Taiwan independence' separatists have long considered the island's eastern direction to be their backyard and 'shelter,' but the drills have shown that we can control that eastern area," Meng said.

He noted that the control operation has delivered the following messages: "Taiwan independence" separatists cannot escape; foreign intervention cannot get in; and the preservation of the island's military power is an illusion.

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