The Chinese military deployed forces all around the island of Taiwan over the weekend in a set of large-scale military drills that one Chinese military analyst called a “rehearsal of possible real action.”
On Monday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced its Eastern Theater Command organized maritime, aerial, conventional missile and other forces around Taiwan and carried out drills around the island from Friday to Sunday. The Eastern Theater Command said the drills were intended “to test and improve the joint operations capability of multiple services and arms.”
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory and Chinese officials have repeatedly discussed “reunification” with the island, including by means of military force.
The Chinese state-run Global Times publication reported maritime, aerial, conventional missile and “other forces” participated in the drills around Taiwan. During the drills, China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier deployed east of the island while a large number of Chinese aircraft and warships carried out drills to the island’s west.
The Ministry of National Defence for the Republic of China (the formal name of the Taiwanese government) documented several instances of Chinese military aircraft entering its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the course of the three-day exercise. 12 Chinese fighter jets, two bombers and four other Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ on Friday. Two bombers and three other aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ on Saturday. Two more aircraft entered the ADIZ on Sunday. China flies military aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ on a near-daily basis.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese mainland military analyst told the Chinese state publication that the PLA’s drills were “like a rehearsal of possible real action.” Song noted the participation of air and naval forces, but noted the seeming lack of amphibious landings and actions by ground forces during the drills.
“In preparation of and a possible real action of military conflict in the Taiwan Straits, all PLA forces will play their roles, as they will surround the entire island, seal it off and launch effective strikes,” Song said according to Global Times.
Song also reportedly said “by having the Liaoning aircraft carrier group positioned east of Taiwan, the PLA not only cuts off possible reinforcements from foreign interference forces, but also launches attacks on military bases east of the Taiwan island, and intercepts any escape attempts from secessionist forces.”
The PLA appeared to conduct the drills in response to recent U.S. interactions with the island. Data from USNI News’ naval fleet tracker indicates the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was active near Taiwan on May 2.
Song reportedly predicted “more training courses will be added, more types and a larger number of equipment will be deployed, and more frequent drills will take place if Taiwan secessionists and external interference forces do not stop.”