China on Wednesday revealed that it held fresh military drills near Taiwan while Joe Biden was wrapping up his first trip to Asia as president. A statement cited “joint patrol and combat readiness operations near Taiwan” while the US leader was in Tokyo where he was meeting with leaders of the other “Quad” nations of Japan, India, and Australia. The military further warned of “collusion” between the US and Taiwan:
Shi Yi, from the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command, said on Wednesday that the joint naval and air combat-readiness exercise by the People’s Liberation Army was a “solemn warning against recent collusion between the United States and Taiwan”.
The Wednesday statement was issued by the People‘s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, confirming it held live fire combat readiness exercises both in the waters and airspace around Taiwan. “It is hypocritical and futile for the United States to say one thing and do another on the Taiwan issue,” the spokesman, Shi added.
During his Tokyo visit Biden surprised the media and officials by committing to defend Taiwan militarily when asked by a reporter what the US would do in the event of a Chinese invasion. The White House subsequently tried to walk back the comments, stressing that the One China status quo policy has not changed. Beijing condemned the statement, issuing its oft repeated line that the US is “playing with fire”. The Biden pledge to defend Taiwan came Monday, with the PLA drills coming apparently the day after.
According to more from the statement:
Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, said the patrol was launched as a warning against recent US support for “Taiwan independence” forces.
“Taiwan is a part of China, and the PLA Eastern Theater Command is determined to safeguard national sovereignty and regional peace and stability,” the spokesman said on Wednesday.
State-backed media outlet The People’s Daily reported China has recently organized “different branches of the forces for joint patrols and live-fire training exercises” in Taiwanese territory.
Further the Chinese Defense Ministry’s website denounced the US for “hypocritical and useless” actions that continue to wrongly encourage Taiwan’s pro-independence forces.
The PLA has “the resolution and capability to thwart any external forces’ interference and secessionist attempts for ‘Taiwan independence’, and to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security as well as regional peace and stability,” the military statement said further.
Biden, in his first trip to Asia as president, declares the US will intervene militarily to “defend Taiwan.” Or in other words — go to war with China. Because that is supposedly “the commitment we made.” So, just casually “committing” the US to yet another catastrophic war
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 23, 2022
On Tuesday it was widely reported that China participated in a provocative joint air patrol with Russia that included nuclear-capable bombers and fighter jets flying over the Sea of Japan and the Western Pacific. It lasted for an estimated 13 hours.
However, a follow-up statement from the Chinese government on Wednesday stressed that the joint patrol was “routine” (as in it happens annually) and supposedly not aimed at any specific outside country. However…
I think this joint strategic patrol of China and Russia is aiming at the QUAD summit in Tokyo. Don’t mess with China and Russia, especially don’t mess with these two great powers at the same time. https://t.co/2JuLXVr2Vq
— Hu Xijin 胡锡进 (@HuXijin_GT) May 24, 2022
According to the statement cited in Bloomberg, “China says its joint strategic air patrol with Russia May 24 doesn’t target any third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situations, according to a statement from the defense ministry.”