China warns Taiwan's president is pushing island towards 'war'

An outdoor screen shows a news coverage of China's military drills around Taiwan, in Beijing on May 23, 2024.

China warned on Friday that Taiwan's leadership was pushing the self-ruled island into "a perilous situation of war and danger" and that it would go "further" if provoked, as Beijing conducted military drills around the territory.

"Since taking office, the leader of the Taiwan region has seriously challenged the one-China principle... pushing our compatriots in Taiwan into a perilous situation of war and danger," Beijing's defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement.

"This is purely playing with fire, and those who play with fire will surely get themselves burnt," Wu said.

Chinese warships and fighter jets surrounded Taiwan on Friday in the second day of drills that Beijing said were testing its ability to seize the island, days after its new president was sworn in.

And Wu warned that it would take further steps if forces pushing for Taiwan's independence provoked Beijing.

"We will push our countermeasures one step further, until the complete reunification of the motherland is achieved," he said.

China's military kicked off the war games Thursday morning, surrounding Taiwan with naval vessels and military aircraft, while vowing the blood of "independence forces" on the island would flow.

The exercises — codenamed "Joint Sword-2024A" — come after Lai Ching-te took office as Taiwan's new president this week and made an inauguration speech that China denounced as a "confession of independence".

The 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 two...

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