The large-scale maritime drills, led by China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, are aimed to “enhance [Beijing’s] capability to safeguard national sovereignty, safety and development interests,” the navy said in a statement late on Monday, adding that “Similar exercises will be conducted on a regular basis in the future.”
According to Chinese media, a brand-new Chinese destroyer, the Nanchang, was a part of the carrier group. The cutting-edge vessel is the maiden ship of the Type 055 large destroyer series, which entered service in China last year.
The drills have already ruffled feathers in Taiwan, with the island’s Defense Ministry accusing Chinese aircraft of violating its airspace during the exercise. Nevertheless, Taiwan’s military insists that it has a “full grasp” of the situation in the air and on the sea around the island, and is “appropriately handling” the situation.
Beijing has greatly expanded its military activities around Taiwan in recent months, repeatedly staging fly-overs of the island. Last month, Taiwan reported a Chinese mission consisting of 20 aircraft, which it described as the largest incursion ever recorded in a single day.
Relations between Beijing and Taipei have been further soured by the activities of Washington, which has been actively seeking to reinforce its military cooperation with Taiwan.
The change of administration in Washington does not seem to have affected this course, and in late March, Taiwan and the US signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a coastguard working group. The document envisions tighter cooperation between the US and Taiwanese coastguards.
US efforts to solidify ties with Taiwan have been repeatedly condemned by Beijing, which says these activities breach the One-China policy, which asserts that there is only one government of China.