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China rehearses ‘sealing off’ Taiwan in third day of drills



China said it was simulating “sealing off” Taiwan in a third day of drills as it appeared to use an aircraft carrier to launch jets towards the island.

Taiwan said it had detected jets to its east while China said its Shandong aircraft carrier had taken part.

Beijing began the exercises on Saturday after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met the US House Speaker in California.

So far however the drills are not as big as those that followed Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last August.


Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state. China sees it as a breakaway province that will eventually be brought under Beijing’s control – by force if necessary.

A map of flight paths released by Taiwan’s defence ministry showed four J-15 fighter jets to the island’s east – suggesting that the Chinese military is for the first time simulating strikes from the east rather than the west where China’s mainland lies.

Analysts said it was likely the jets had come from China’s Shandong aircraft carrier – one of two such carriers it possesses – which is currently deployed in the western Pacific ocean, about 320km (200 miles) from Taiwan.


The Chinese military confirmed on Monday in a statement that the Shandong had “participated” in Monday’s exercises. It said fighter planes loaded with live ammunition had “carried out multiple waves of simulated strikes on important targets”.

The US said it was a freedom of navigation operation through international waters. China said the ship had “illegally intruded” into its waters.

Washington had repeatedly called for China to exercise restraint following President Tsai’s meeting with Kevin McCarthy, the third most senior US government figure. Beijing meanwhile had warned the US and Taiwan of “resolute counter-measures” if Ms Tsai met Mr McCarthy.


China announced the drills after top foreign leaders it was hosting – including French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen – left the country.

However some analysts say such military exercises may have diminishing impact over time.

“To maintain the same fear factor, [China will] have to ramp it up bigger and bigger each time as their actions will have a normalising effect after a while,” said Ian Chong, a non-resident scholar at Carnegie China.


Taiwan’s status has been ambiguous since 1949, when the Chinese Civil War turned in favour of the Chinese Communist Party and the country’s old ruling government retreated to the island.

China’s President Xi Jinping has said “reunification” with Taiwan “must be fulfilled”.

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