An anti-submarine patrol aircraft attached to an aviation regiment with the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command takes off for a round-the-clock training exercise on March 10, 2021. The exercise involved multiple over-water flight training items including anti-submarine operations and low-altitude flight. Photo: China Military Online
Multiple branches of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) are continuing large-scale military exercises near the island of Taiwan, at a time when Taiwan secessionists insisted on making provocative statements and holding drills, and the US sent a warship through the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday and voiced support to “Taiwan independence” forces, even as the PLA was exercising around the island with an aircraft carrier task group and warplanes.
Taiwan secessionists and the US are leaving the Chinese mainland and the PLA with no choice but to enhance war preparedness in case of “Taiwan secessionism,” analysts said on Thursday.
Some 15 PLA aircraft, namely eight J-10 and four J-16 fighter jets, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and two KJ-500 early warning aircraft entered Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone on Wednesday, the defense department of Taiwan authorities said on Wednesday.
A combined arms battalion affiliated with the PLA 73rd Group Army has been holding a series of amphibious landing exercises in recent days in waters off the southern part of East China’s Fujian Province, with several types of amphibious armored vehicles participating in beach assault drills, China Central Television reported on Wednesday.
Taking the ongoing drills by the Liaoning aircraft carrier task group, the PLA Army, Navy and Air Force are conducting exercises near the island of Taiwan, observers said.
The PLA exercises come as Taiwan secessionists and the US are ramping up the rhetoric to provoke the Chinese mainland on the Taiwan question, which analysts said increases the risk of conflict.
Taiwan would fight to the end if the Chinese mainland attacks, and the US can see a danger that this could happen amid mounting PLA pressure, including aircraft carrier drills near the island, claimed the head of the external affairs department of Taiwan authorities, Joseph Wu, on Wednesday, Taipei News reported on Thursday.
In a separate event, the defense department of Taiwan authorities announced it would run eight days of computer-aided war games simulating a PLA attack this month, and live-fire drills in July, forming the two phases of Taiwan’s largest annual Han Kuang war games, the report said.
Citing another Taiwan official, Reuters reported Wednesday that Taiwan may shoot down Chinese mainland drones near the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that many officials in Taiwan, like Wu, are laymen who do not understand the military, while others who do understand the enormous power gap between the island’s military and the PLA are lying and talking big to deceive people on the island, trying to show the money they used in arms purchase is worth it.
Another military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities are seeking secession at the cost of ordinary people in Taiwan by tying them onto the chariot of the “Taiwan independence” forces and dashing to a war that they cannot win.
The PLA exercises are not only warnings, but also show real capabilities and pragmatically practicing reunifying the island if it comes to that, the analyst said. “The island’s military won’t stand a chance.”
The US on Wednesday sent the USS John S. McCain destroyer through the Taiwan Straits, which was tracked and monitored by the PLA Eastern Theater Command, Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, the command spokesperson, said in a statement on the day.
The US move sent a wrong signal to “Taiwan independence” forces, Zhang said, noting that the command troops will stay on high vigilance to deal with any provocation.
The US Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group also entered the South China Sea on Thursday, Beijing-based think tank the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative said on Thursday.
Taiwan secessionists’ hype of PLA threats is crying for help from countries like the US and Japan, since they know they are powerless and want to make the Taiwan question an international one, Shi Hong, Executive Chief Editor of the Chinese mainland magazine, Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times.
PLA’s exercises from all directions of the island showed that mainland forces can isolate the island’s troops and cut off foreign intervention, and the US will not be able to come to Taiwan secessionists’ aid if a situation arises, Shi said.
The reason behind the tensions and large-scale PLA exercises around Taiwan is the collusion of Taiwan secessionists and the US, which has been challenging the one-China principle, Song said. “It is the US and DPP authorities that have been changing the cross-Straits status quo, and the PLA had to respond.”
In extreme circumstance when Taiwan secessionists act to trigger the secessionism button, a large-scale confrontation or even war could break out, and such situation is to be forcefully imposed on the people on both sides of the Straits by the US and Taiwan secessionists, Song said, noting that that is why the PLA must effectively deter them and maintain peace.