On the fourth day of the drill, which is being heldin retaliation to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s visit to Taiwan, the Chinese military carried out island saturation attack drills.
During the four-day exercises, several batches of multiple types of warplanes attached to the Eastern Theatre Command Air Force of the Chinese PLA conducted systematic island attack drills, with the focus being honing the joint land attack and long-range air strike capabilities, the PLA Eastern Theatre Command said.
It has also deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the self-ruled island — which China claims as its territory.
On Sunday, the Chinese military proceeded with the plan and continued realistic combat-scenario joint exercises in the sea and air space around the island of Taiwan practicing island capturing drills and bomber deterrence flights in Taiwan Strait, a rehearsal for real operation, state-run Global Times reported.
Taipei’s defence ministry confirmed China had dispatched “planes, vessels and drones… simulating attacks on Taiwan’s main island and on ships in our waters”.
It detected 66 air force planes and 14 warships operating in the Taiwan Strait, of which 22 crossed the median line and the extended area of the unofficial demarcation in the waters that separate Taiwan and China.
Taiwan, too, carried out massive exercises in response to China.
Both Chinese and Taiwanese warships played high seas “cat and mouse” on Sunday ahead of the scheduled end of four days of unprecedented drills. However, neither Beijing nor Taipei confirmed the conclusion of the exercises.
Meanwhile, reports said the PLA is reviewing the impact of the unprecedented war games involving all wings of its military as questions remained about its next move, heightening Beijing’s dilemma over the future course of action.
Beijing has also announced fresh drills in the Yellow Sea — located between China and the Korean peninsula — to take place until August 15.
China has suspended a range of defence and military exchanges with the US besides imposing sanctions on Pelosi as part of a slew of countermeasures to protest against her trip to Taipei on Tuesday and Wednesday that infuriated Beijing, which saw it as a violation of the “one-China” policy.
China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognising its sovereignty.
Taiwan has remained defiant throughout China’s sabre-rattling, insisting it will not be cowed by its “evil neighbour”.
But experts have warned the drills have revealed an increasingly emboldened Chinese military capable of carrying out a gruelling blockade of the island as well as obstructing US forces from coming to its aid.
“In some areas, the PLA might even surpass US capabilities,” Grant Newsham, a researcher at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and a former US Navy officer, told AFP, referring to China’s military by its official name.
“If the battle is confined to the area right around Taiwan, today’s Chinese navy is a dangerous opponent — and if the Americans and Japanese do not intervene for some reason, things would be difficult for Taiwan.”