China has ended three days of large-scale military drills around Taiwan after demonstrating a show of force with precision strikes and exercises that simulated sealing off the island.

China said on Friday that the military exercise, named Joint Sword, had been “successfully completed” and that it “comprehensively tested” the capabilities of multiple units under actual combat conditions.

“The troops in the theatre are ready to fight at all times and can fight at any time, resolutely crushing any form of Taiwan independence separatism and foreign interference,” the eastern theatre command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said in a statement.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles, and warships staged drills to “form a multi-directional island-encompassing blockade situation”.

Citing the People’s Liberation Army, CCTV said the exercises were “simulating the joint sealing off” of Taiwan as well as “waves of simulated strikes” at important targets on the island.

The eastern theatre command said the Shandong aircraft carrier had also taken part in combat patrols, and it showed fighters taking off from its deck.

People walk on the street during morning rush hour in Taipei, Taiwan April 10, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
People walk on the street in Taipei as Chinese military exercises take place around Taiwan (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Taiwan’s defence ministry said that as of mid-morning on Monday it had spotted 59 military aircraft and 11 ships around the island, which China views as part of its own territory.

The Chinese military announced the drills on Saturday after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei following a meeting in Los Angeles with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, despite warnings from Beijing of retaliation.

Military experts commented that the exercises served as both psychological warfare and an opportunity for Chinese troops to practise sealing off Taiwan by blocking sea and air traffic.

“China wants to use any increase of diplomatic interactions between the US. and Taiwan as an excuse to train its military,” Kuo Yu-jen, a defence studies expert and director of the Institute for National Policy Research in Taiwan, told Associated Press.

The EU expressed concern on Monday, saying Taiwan’s status should not be changed by force, while the US said it was watching China’s drills closely.

Russia, meanwhile, voiced its support for China’s military exercises, saying on Monday that Beijing had every right to respond to what it called repeated “provocations”.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said China’s actions were in line with international law.

“In a very short period of time, you and I have witnessed repeated actions that have been provocative toward the People’s Republic of China,” Mr Peskov told reporters.

“And, of course, China has the sovereign right to respond to these provocative actions, including conducting military manoeuvres in strict compliance with international law.”

The drills have had little impact on the day-to-day lives of ordinary Taiwanese, who have continued as normal with no signs of panic or disruption and civilian flights operating as usual.

“Most normal people probably aren’t afraid, with the main reason being that everyone thinks that China will certainly not start a war,” retiree and former soldier Tang Pao-hsiung, 78, told Reuters.

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