China's military drills near Taiwan Strait were the practice for taking over Taiwan and the exercises should be viewed as "actual combat," Chinese state media said on Friday. The scathing remarks came after a high-level U.S. official arrived in the island nation for a three-day visit irking Beijing, which claims Taiwan to be its own territory.
The Chinese military sent two bombers and 16 fighters into Taiwan's air defense identification zone, according to Taiwan's defense ministry. The display of force continued on Saturday when Beijing sent 19 warplanes toward Taiwan, which deployed an air defense missile system to monitor the movements of the Chinese planes.
China's Military Drills a Warning?
Friday's military drills were a last-minute decision and showed that the People's Liberation Army was capable of organizing a military action targeting Taiwan in a "short period of time," an editorial in the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Global Times said. It also clarified that the unannounced visit of Keith Krach, the U.S. undersecretary for state, prompted China to send a rebuke.
"Our target of deterrence is collusion between the U.S. and the island. It shows China's upgraded determination and will. ... If the U.S. and Taiwan island think they can realize 'normalization' of relations by adopting 'salami tactics,' they will be plunged into peril and risks," Global Times' editorial read. "Should they continue to make provocations, war will inevitably break out."
Krach's visit was marked by closed-door meetings with Taiwanese cabinet officials including Vice Premier Shen Jong Chin and Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei Hua. On Saturday, he attended a memorial service for Lee Teng Hui, the first democratically elected president of the country, at the Aletheia University in Taipei. He concluded the visit on Saturday afternoon, according to Taiwan's foreign ministry.
This was the second such visit by a high-level U.S. official in less than two months. In August, the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar went to the island nation. The back to back visits of the U.S. officials were part of the Trump administration's attempts to strengthen ties with Taiwan. This has been a bone of contention for China, who has repeatedly said Washington's growing closeness to Taipei harmed regional stability.
On Thursday, Wisconsin congressman Tom Tiffany, introduced a bill to end 'one-China policy', a key component of U.S.-China diplomatic relations. The bill also sought to resumed formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan and initiate negotiations with the island country on crafting a bilateral, U.S.-Taiwan Free Trade Agreement.