China says military drills finished, but war prep continues
China officially announced an end to its war games around Taiwan on Wednesday, but said its military would continue with further “training and war preparation.”
Beijing’s military exercises were successfully finished and “effectively tested the integrated joint combat capabilities of the troops,” a People Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command spokesperson said, according to The Guardian.
China also vowed to continue to monitor and regularly patrol the Taiwan Strait and remain prepared for a fight.
Beijing began live fire drills last week in retaliation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) high-profile trip showing solidarity with Taiwan.
The exercises, which began Thursday, were meant to end on Sunday but were extended unexpectedly. They marked Beijing’s largest ever war games in the Taiwan Strait and included a dozen missile exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan, as well as increased naval and air activities in the waterway.
China views Taiwan as its own territory under its “One China” principle and has refused to rule out attempting to bring Taipei under its control using force.
Taiwan, meanwhile, accused China of using the drills as a rehearsal for an invasion.
Shortly before Wednesday’s announcement that the exercises had ended, China reaffirmed that it would use force against Taiwan should the mainland not take control of the independently governed island “by peaceful means,” according to a major policy paper on China-Taiwan relations.
“We will work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification,” China said, according to the English-language version of the document. “But we will not renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”
It adds that such force would be a “last resort taken under compelling circumstances.”
The document also indicated China pulling back on a promise given in 1993 and again in 2000 to not to send troops or administrative personnel to the island if Beijing took control.
Though the United States does not have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan, such a move from China would be significant for Washington, as the U.S. is legally bound to come to the island’s aid in defending itself under the Taiwan Relations Act.