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China’s military says Taiwan drills met goals but it is ready for further action

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China’s military achieved its “expected goals” during two days of drills around Taiwan last week but is prepared for further action if provoked, a defence ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

China, which views democratically-governed Taiwan as its own territory, staged two days of war games around the island following the inauguration of President Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing calls a “separatist”.

Thursday’s comments came hours after Taiwan warned that Beijing was trying to “nibble away” at its space and create a new normal with drills and other moves to exert pressure on Lai’s new administration.

The joint drills by the People’s Liberation Army were “a measure to contain aggressive Taiwanese independence and separatist activities and a warning against foreign interference,” the spokesperson, Wu Qian, said in Beijing.

“We have reached our expected goals,” he told a press briefing.

“We are confident that despite turbulence and changes in outside situation, we will deal with everything with ease,” Wu added, vowing “stronger countermeasures” by the military against any further moves by “separatist” forces. While the drills have formally ended, China’s military activities have not, with Taiwan saying on Wednesday that Chinese warplanes and warships carried out a “joint combat readiness patrol”. “The Chinese communists’ pressure on Taiwan is all encompassing, especially diplomatically,” Foreign Minister Lin Chia-lung told reporters at parliament.

Taiwan faces huge obstructions in its bid to participate in events held by world bodies, such as a major World Health Organisation meeting this week that it was kept out of, the minister added.

Chinese pressure keeps Taiwan out of most international bodies. China says Taiwan is one of its provinces with no right to the attributes of a state, a position the government in Taipei strongly rejects.

Lin pointed to other actions by China, such as unilaterally opening new air routes close to Taiwan-controlled islands next to the Chinese coast, and sending coast guard ships to Taiwan’s east coast during last week’s exercises.

“The Chinese communists are continuing to change the status quo,” he said. “They are creating a new normal, pressing on at every stage, trying to nibble away and annex (us).”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, at a routine news conference on Wednesday, reiterated its complaints about Lai being a dangerous supporter of Taiwan’s formal independence, and threatened continued Chinese military activity.

Lai’s repeated offers of talks with China have been rebuffed. He says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

China says Taiwan is a purely internal matter.

Lin said stability was a matter for everyone.

“The cross-Strait issue is not only about the Strait; it’s a regional, or even global matter,” he added.

Taipei says Taiwan is already an independent country, the Republic of China. The Republican government fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s Communists who set up the People’s Republic of China.

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