China starts ‘punishment’ military drills around Taiwan days after island swears in new leader

China has launched two days of military drills surrounding Taiwan in what it called “punishment” for “separatist acts,” days after the self-ruling island swore in a new democratically elected leader, SİA informs referring to CNN.

The exercises, which started early on May 23 and will encircle Taiwan, pose the first real test for Lai Ching-te on handling tenuous relations with China after he took office as Taiwan’s new president on May 20.

China’s ruling Communist Party says the self-ruling democracy is part of its territory, despite never having controlled it, and has vowed to take the island, by force if necessary.

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said it launched joint military drills involving the army, navy, air force and rocket force in areas around Taiwan at 7.45 a.m. on Thursday.

The drills are being conducted in the Taiwan Strait – a narrow body of water separating the self-ruling island with mainland China – as well as north, south and east of Taiwan. They are also taking place in areas around Taiwan’s outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, located just off China’s southeastern coast, the command said in a statement.

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