China starts 3 days of combat readiness patrol exercises around Taiwan

The drills, named “United Sharp Sword,” include air and seaborne operations.

April 8, 2023, 1:28 AM

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China says it has started three days of combat readiness patrol exercises around Taiwan starting on April 8, just a day after Taiwan President Tsai returned home following her meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Chinese state media released a video which mentions some of the assets used in the exercises, including PLA army’s rockets -- likely the new PHL-16 truck-mounted self-propelled multiple rocket launcher -- the Navy's destroyer escort, a missile boat, the Air Force's J-series, fighter bombers, electronic warfare aircraft and aerial tankers.

China says this has all been “quickly amassed and moved to the designated drill zones in preparation for combat deployment. The drills aim to examine, under the support of joint combat forces, the military's capabilities of gaining air & sea superiority/controls as well as information warfare strength. The mission forces will simultaneously organize combat patrols encircling Taiwan and closing in on the island so as to impose/increase island-wide military intimidation.”

The drills, named “United Sharp Sword,” include air and seaborne operations. China’s Eastern Theater Command said these exercises are intended as a serious warning to the “collusion between Taiwan separatist forces and external forces and it is the necessary actions that need to be taken to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A Chinese warship sails during a military drill near Fuzhou, Fujian Province, near the Taiwan-controlled Matsu Islands that are close to the Chinese coast, China, April 8, 2023.
Thomas Peter/Reuters

Taiwan's defense ministry said it has detected 42 fighter jets in the airspace around Taiwan as of Saturday morning, with 29 of them entering Taiwan's southwestern Air Defense Identification Zone or having crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. In total, eight warships have also been detected, according to officials.

Taiwan released a video saying, "China's Eastern Theater Command announced combat ready patrols & drills on the excuse of Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen's US transits - a move that seriously jeopardizes the region's peace, stability and security. Taiwan's military has utilized joint surveillance measures to keep a tab on the situation nearby. [Taiwan] won't escalate tensions, neither trigger disputes. We will respond with calmness and reasons and take it seriously to safeguard our national sovereignty and national security."

Meanwhile, live-fire drills will also be held in Fujian -- located just across the strait from Taiwan -- over the next several days.

The military exercises are expected to run for a shorter period of time compared to the seven-day drills staged last August following former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

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