China concludes Taiwan drills with ‘island saturation attack’, ‘bomber deterrence flights’
The aim of the drill on Sunday was to carry out an “island attack” exercise along with a “lockdown” drill, a report in Chinese media said
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday carried out “island saturation attack drills” and “bomber deterrence flights” as it concluded an unprecedented four-day military drill around self-governed Taiwan, launched in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week.
“After completing the mock strike mission, several bomber formations flew across the Taiwan Strait from north to south and from south to north simultaneously, carrying out a deterrence mission around the island jointly with other PLA services and branches,” state-run tabloid, Global Times said in a late night online report.
Multiple bomber formations of the PLA crossed the Taiwan Strait in both directions simultaneously. The aim of the drill on Sunday was to carry out an “island attack” exercise along with a “lockdown” drill, the report said.
Even as the four-day Taiwan-focussed drill ended, the government announced more military exercises around the Yellow Sea, located between China and the Korean Peninsula, and Bohai Sea, off the northern Chinese coast, expanding drills across new maritime areas.
“The drill on the Bohai Sea will be held between August 8 and September 8, while another on the Yellow Sea will be conducted between August 7 and 15,” China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) said in a statement.
The Taiwan-focused drills, which took place in six zones around the island, encircling it, began Thursday though advance drills had begun earlier.
Taiwan, a self-governed democracy of around 23 million people, is claimed by Beijing as a breakaway province.
Chinese official media has described the four-day exercise as a practice for blockading Taiwan and to fulfilling the ultimate aim of invading the island to merge it with the mainland.
China deployed more than a 100 fighter jets, fired ballistic missiles and dispatched dozens of warships for the drill, the largest such exercise to be held around Taiwan.
“The last day of scheduled military exercises around Taiwan island by the PLA on Sunday featured island saturation attack drills and bomber deterrence flights in the Straits,” the Global Times report said.
Among the PLA aircraft deployed through the drill were the H-6K bomber, the JH-7A fighter bomber, the J-16 fighter jet and the Su-30 fighter jet.
“Fully loaded with live ammunition, several bombers and fighter bombers of the Air Force took off one by one, entered combat formations, and launched standoff, saturation strike exercises with various types of precision munitions, jointly with the Army’s long-range rocket artillery and the (PLA) Rocket Force’s conventional missiles,” the GT report said.
A US National Security Council spokesperson on Saturday, according to a CNN report, called China’s military activities around Taiwan a “significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo.”
“They are provocative, irresponsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation,” the spokesperson said.
“They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects,” the CNN report quoted the spokesperson as saying.