The Chinese military began new beach landing drills this week near the island nation of Taiwan just two days after a U.S. military transport plane landed in Taipei, carrying visiting U.S. Senators and delivering vaccines.
The South China Morning Post reported the official WeChat account for the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced on Tuesday that the 72nd Group Army had carried out training, including launching amphibious vehicles to land in unspecified waters south of Fujian Province, which sits across the Taiwan Strait from Taiwan.
The Chinese military drills came after Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) arrived on the island on Sunday along with 750,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines. The vaccines come amid a reported rise in COVID-19 coronavirus infections on the island.
The drills reportedly entailed Chinese wheeled amphibious armored vehicles enter the dock of an amphibious landing ship, which then sailed to the training landing area before releasing those amphibious vehicles.
An amphibious landing is expected to play a critical role in the potential Chinese invasion of an island like Taiwan.
Senior Col. Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense said this most recent U.S. visit to Taiwan is “an abominable political provocation that challenges the one-China principle.”
Wu said the U.S. must refrain from sending any wrong signals to separatist elements advocating “Taiwan independence.”
Wu also said, “China must be and will be reunited. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will resolutely defeat any attempt by the secessionists to separate Taiwan region from China, and safeguard national unity and territorial integrity at all costs.”
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, mainland China considers it part of Chinese territory. Since 1979, the U.S. has adhered to the One-China policy, which treats Taiwan as part of Chinese territory. Despite recognizing China’s territorial claim over Taiwan, the U.S. has continued to interact with Taiwan through a policy of strategic ambiguity. China has increasingly warned the U.S. and Taiwan against interactions with one another.
The timing of China’s latest amphibious drills appear similar to when Chinese warplanes circled Taiwan in September as Keith Krach, then- Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, visited the island.
China has since continued to fly its military aircraft around Taiwan on a near-daily basis, in a tactic that appears aimed at exhausting Taiwan’s smaller fleet of military aircraft. In April, China sent 25 warplanes towards Taiwan in its largest single-day demonstration of airpower over the island. Those Chinese aircraft also appeared to fly practice attacks on U.S. warships operating near Taiwan.