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China sends dozens of fighter jets and ships near Taiwan to show its anger at the island’s new leaders

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese fighter jets and navy ships off its coast on Friday. the second day of a large military exercise launched by Beijing to show its anger at the inauguration of the autonomous island new leaders who refuse to accept his insistence that Taiwan is part of China.

China has issued elaborate media statements showing that Taiwan is surrounded by forces from its military, the People’s Liberation Army. New video on Friday showed animated Chinese forces approaching from all sides and Taiwan locked inside a circular target area as simulated missiles hit key military and population targets.

Despite that, there were few signs of concern among Taiwan’s 23 million people, who have lived under the threat of a Chinese invasion since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949. Taiwan’s parliament was embroiled on Friday in a dispute between political parties over procedural measures. , and business continued as usual in the bustling capital of Taipei and the ports of Keelong and Kaohsiung.

The Defense Ministry said it tracked 49 Chinese fighter jets and 19 navy ships, as well as coast guard ships, and that 35 of the planes flew across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary. between the two sides, over a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday.

Taiwanese marine and coast guard vessels, along with ground and air missile units, have been put on alert, particularly around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu island chains, off the coast of China and away from the main island of Taiwan.

“In the face of external challenges and threats, we will continue to maintain the values ​​of freedom and democracy.” The new president of Taiwan, Lai Ching-te he told sailors and senior security officials Thursday while visiting a marine base in Taoyuan, just south of the capital, Taipei.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, Lai urged Beijing to stop its military bullying and said Taiwan was “a sovereign and independent nation in which sovereignty is in the hands of the people.”

China’s military said its expanded exercises around Taiwan were punishment for separatist forces seeking independence. It sends warships and warplanes into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island almost daily to wear down Taiwan’s defenses and try to intimidate its people, who strongly support its de facto independence.

“As soon as Taiwan’s leader took office, he challenged the one-China principle and shamelessly peddled the ‘two-state theory,'” Chinese Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Chen Binhua said in a statement. released Thursday night.

The one-China principle states that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of China under the rule of the Communist Party. Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province and has been increasing its military threats even as the island’s electorate overwhelmingly favors de facto independence.

In Beijing, international relations professor Shi Yinhong of Renmin University of China said China’s drills and verbal condemnations of Lai were intended to show Beijing’s anger toward Lai and his administration’s policies. These include continuing his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen’s policies of building a strong national defense and resisting Beijing’s efforts to diplomatically isolate Taiwan.

“It can be considered mainly necessary to convince the Chinese people about the government’s determination and the progress of the military’s capabilities,” Shi said.

“But Lai, and to some extent Taiwanese in general, experienced numerous similar things. It will not change them and will cause the United States and its key allies to do more in their military support for Taiwan,” Shih said.

UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said they were closely monitoring China’s exercises. “We urge relevant parties to refrain from acts that could escalate tensions in the region,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, in a daily briefing on Friday, dismissed US calls for China to exercise “restraint” over the latest round of exercises.

The United States “is not in a position to make such irresponsible comments,” Wang said.

Washington is legally obliged to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and considers all threats to the island to be of “serious concern.”

The United States has been helping to improve Taiwan’s equipment and training, even though its official policy remains ambiguous about whether American troops and those of its regional allies would be sent to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

China’s exercises come on the heels of combined exercises by the United States and its Dutch NATO ally in the disputed South China Sea, a crucial waterway for global trade, fisheries and energy resources that China claims virtually in its entirety. whole.

China routinely opposes the activities in the region of foreign military forces which it accuses of acting without a mandate outside their home regions. China has particularly pressed its claims against the Philippines.

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro criticized on Friday Beijing’s increasingly aggressive actions in the South China Sea, without mentioning China by name. He spoke at a military ceremony marking the anniversary of the founding of the Philippine navy.

The Philippines, he said, would not tolerate aggression or provocative measures.

Since territorial hostilities with China escalated last year in the South China Sea, the administration of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has taken action to forge new security alliances with several Asian and Western countries and were allowed a US military presence in more Philippine bases under a 2014 defense pact.

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Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report. Follow AP’s Asia-Pacific coverage on https://apnews.com/hub/asia-pacific

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