PLA's live-fire drills in Taiwan Straits a warning to 'independence groups,' U.S.

Updated 2018-04-19 09:16:05

Warning signal to 'Taiwan independence groups,' U.S.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted live-fire military exercises in the Taiwan Straits on Wednesday, with experts saying that the exercises are a clear and tough signal to "Taiwan independence groups" and the U.S. who are damaging cross-Straits ties.

Chinese mainland's Fujian Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) issued a notice on April 12, stating that the PLA's live-fire drills in the Taiwan Straits were from 8:00 am to midnight on Wednesday, and that civilian vessels were forbidden from entering the relevant waters.

Mainland's military drills not only send a tough message to "Taiwan independence groups" but also deliver a warning to the U.S., which recently boosted communication and ties with Taiwan, Yu Keli, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Taiwan Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The duration and location, which was relatively closer to Fujian Province than Taiwan, and scale of the drills were limited, according to information released by the Fujian MSA, so it shows that the mainland doesn't want to create too much tension to cross-Straits relations, Yu noted.

Cui Tiankai, Chinese ambassador to the U.S., said that the message delivered by the military exercises is clear: "China will firmly safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will realize reunification."

"We still hope we can realize it peacefully, but if anyone tries to separate Taiwan, we will do everything we can to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Cui made the remarks at an event at Harvard University's Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies on Tuesday, the China Review News Agency reported.

The U.S. has already made a mistake by legalizing official exchanges with Taiwan, and if it keeps making more mistakes to harm China's sovereignty, the possibility of more military drills and diplomatic retaliation cannot be ruled out, Xu Guangyu, a retired major general of the People's Liberation Army and senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.

Not just a deterrent

The drills follow recent pro-independence activities on the island, especially the high-profile advocacy for independence by the head of Taiwan's administrative authority, Lai Ching-te.

Liu Jieyi, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said on Monday that Lai is a "Taiwan independence separatist," and "the drills are meant to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity," Taiwan-based media reported.

If the mainland wants to effectively deter "Taiwan independence separatist forces," the drills should include "amphibious landings, island seizing, air domination and island blockade combat," said Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator.

But this time, since the drill area is not big with a shorter duration, the drills could not include too many areas of training. So, aside from live-fire drills by artillery units, the drills might also include logistical preparations for landing combat, said a military expert from a Beijing-based military academy.

"The military drills are not just meant to deter, so areas like combat preparation and logistics affairs were also included," he said. "This means the PLA is preparing for a massive military operation to re-take Taiwan in the future. If Taiwan and the U.S. merely treat the PLA's action as a sign of deterrence, they are making a serious mistake."

Taiwan also conducted military exercises on Friday, and Taiwan's regional leader Tsai Ing-wen watched the exercises.

Reuters reported that Taiwan's drills did not involve live-fire exercises.

Xu said Taiwan's military exercises are meaningless because there is no chance for Taiwan's military to change anything once the mainland decides to solve the Taiwan question militarily.

The PLA did not release updated information on its drills on Wednesday as of press time.

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