China’s military has “completed various tasks” around Taiwan but will conduct regular patrols, it said on Wednesday, potentially signaling an end to days of war games but also that Beijing will keep up the pressure against the island.
China, furious at a visit to Taipei last week by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, had extended its largest-ever exercises around the self-ruled island it claims as its own beyond the originally scheduled four days.
The drills last week included ballistic missile launches, some of which flew over the island’s capital, Taipei, and simulated sea and air attacks in the skies and waters around Taiwan.
In a brief statement, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said its series of joint military operations in the sea and airspace around Taiwan had “successfully completed various tasks and effectively tested the integrated combat capabilities of the troops.”
“Theater forces will keep an eye on the changes in the situation in the Taiwan Strait, continue to carry out training and preparation for combat, organize regular combat readiness patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
There was no immediate reaction from Taiwan.
Video released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Wednesday showed Chinese fighter jets scrambling and refueling midair, as well as navy ships on what it said were drills around Taiwan.
The Eastern Theater Command said the drills were focused on blockades and resupply logistics, “under a complex electromagnetic environment to refine joint containment and control capabilities,” according to CCTV.
Taiwan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that China was using the military drills as a game plan to prepare for an invasion of the democratically governed island.
Pelosi, a longtime China critic and a political ally of President Joe Biden, visited Taiwan last week on the highest-level visit to the island by an American official in decades, despite Chinese warnings. She said her visit showed unwavering U.S. commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.
China says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and it reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects China’s claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
Washington was sticking to its assessment that China would not try to invade Taiwan for the next two years, a Pentagon official said on Monday.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry released a video on Wednesday showing its armed forces on exercises, saying its military is “at the ready keeping our country safe” and that China had not stopped its “incursions” in areas near Taiwan.
Taiwan troops were guarding their posts “24-7” and have increased their alertness level, the ministry said, following the guidelines of “defending the median line, defending territorial waters and defending sovereignty” to maintain the status quo.