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China Concludes Military Exercises Around Taiwan Amid Rising Tensions

China wrapped up two days of intensive military exercises around Taiwan on Friday, May 24, 2024, dubbed "Joint Sword-2024A." These drills, which included simulated attacks with bombers and ship-boarding practices, were a direct response to the inauguration speech of Taiwan's new president, William Lai Ching-te, who asserted Taiwan's sovereignty as an independent nation.

During the exercises, Taiwan's defense ministry reported a significant increase in Chinese military activity. On Friday alone, 46 Chinese warplanes, including advanced Su-30 fighters and nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. In total, Taiwan detected 62 Chinese aircraft and 27 navy ships operating in the strait and the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines. Taiwan's air force released footage of a Chinese J-16 fighter and H-6 bomber.

China has regularly conducted military exercises around Taiwan over the past four years, including large-scale war games in 2022 and 2023. However, these latest drills were viewed as a direct reaction to Lai's speech, which Beijing interpreted as a declaration of independence. Chinese state media accused Lai of being a "pawn" for external forces and warned of "decisive action" if Taiwan continues its separatist stance. In response, Taiwan condemned the exercises as a "blatant provocation" and reaffirmed that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future. Taiwan also criticized the drills for undermining regional peace and stability, calling for international condemnation of China's actions.

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