China holds war games around Taiwan, vows flowing blood

Taiwanese air force Mirage 2000 fighter jets wait for take off at a base in Hsinchu in northern Taiwan on May 23, 2024.

China on Thursday encircled Taiwan with naval vessels and military aircraft in war games, as it vowed the blood of "independence forces" on the self-ruled island would flow.

The two days of drills are part of an escalating campaign of intimidation by China that has seen it carry out a series of large-scale military exercises around Taiwan in recent years.

The drills come after Lai Ching-te was sworn in as Taiwan's new president this week and made an inauguration speech that China denounced as a "confession of independence".

As the drills got underway, China's military said they would serve as "strong punishment for the separatist acts of 'Taiwan independence' forces".

Foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin then delivered a warning that included language more commonly used by China's propaganda outlets.

"Taiwan independence forces will be left with their heads broken and blood flowing after colliding against the great... trend of China achieving complete unification," Wang told reporters.

 'Joint Sword-2024A' 

China — governed by the Communist Party since 1949 — claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to bring the democratic island under its rule, by force if necessary.

Thursday and Friday's drills — codenamed "Joint Sword-2024A" — involve aircraft and ships surrounding the island to test their combat capabilities, China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

Taiwan responded by deploying air, ground and sea forces, with the island's defence ministry vowing to "defend freedom".

President Lai said he would "stand on the front...

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