President Tsai says Chinese military drills in Taiwan Strait create instability in region

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Tsai on April 15
Image: Office of the President (Taiwan).
A map indicating the Taiwan Strait median and aircraft flight paths near it
A map indicating the Taiwan Strait median and aircraft flight paths near it
Image: Ministry of National Defense (Republic of China).

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen released a statement on April 11, in which she said China created instability in the region with its three-day military drills in the Taiwan Strait.

The Associated Press reported that the drills were in response to Tsai's recent visit to the United States, during which she met with speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy was the highest ranking US politician to have met with a Taiwanese president on US soil.

In her statement, Tsai said "As the president, I represent our country in the world, whether it's a visit to allied countries or stopping through in the U.S. and interacting with our international friends. And not only has this been going on for years, it's the Taiwanese people's shared expectation". Tsai added, "But China used this as a pretext to start military drills, creating instability in the Taiwan Strait and region. This is not the attitude of a responsible major nation in this region."

China launched military drills on Saturday, which simulated strikes on Taiwan by carrier-based aircraft. The Japan Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press release the Japanese military had observed 80 aircraft take-offs and landings from the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong. According to the Joint Chiefs, Japan scrambled Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets in response. CNN reported that 35 aircraft of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) crossed the Taiwan Strait median line or entered Taiwanese air-defense identification zone.

The PLA released a statement in which it said the operation "comprehensively tested joint combat capabilities of its integrated military forces under actual combat situation." It also stated: "Forces in the command is [sic] ready for combat at all times, and will resolutely destroy any type of 'Taiwan independence' separatist or foreign interference attempts."

The US Taiwan Relations Act legalized unofficial relations with Taiwan in 1979 and requires the US "to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character."