China launches fearsome beach assault drills in chilling warning to Taiwan

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Video footage of the landings released by Chinese naval chiefs show large amphibious landing craft off-loading armoured vehicles and troops as the combined arms forces storm the unidentified beach off the coast of the southern province of Guangdong. Ultra-nationalist Chinese Communist Party newspaper the Global Times said the drills were will run until the end of the month and were a sign Beijing was preparing for conflict on multiple fronts.

The mainland will fight a war that it is fully prepared for

Global Times

The Global Times said the Central Military Commission, which is chaired by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, had ordered the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to step up its joint combat capabilities.

It said the exercises were a response to the “intensifying situation and increasing risk of military conflicts” in sensitive regions including the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and China-India border.

Tensions over the disputed island have reached boiling point in recent months, with China last month launching air force drills which saw jets cross the median strait, a notional maritime border which divides Taiwan from the mainland – but which Beijing now rejects.

More recently, during a visit to a military base, China’s President Xi Jinping told Chinese Marines to “focus your minds and energy on preparing to go to war”.

The Global Times said: “The People’s Liberation Army conducted intensive military exercises in the Taiwan Straits region recently.

“One of the purposes was to deal with challenges during the US government transition.

“Once the US and Taiwan island touch the bottom line, the mainland will fight a war that it is fully prepared for.”

Beijing has never ruled out the possibility of using military force to reunify the self-ruled democratic island of Taiwan, which in recent years has been backed by the US under Donald Trump.

Last month, the Pentagon approved a £1.4bn arms deal for three weapons systems, including rocket launchers, sensors and artillery.

Taiwan hopes to continue its close cooperation with the US during the Presidency of Joe Biden.

Its representative in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, held talks with US diplomat Antony Blinken held talks with over the weekend.

Ms Hsiao said: “Appreciated bipartisan support for US relations with Taiwan and hope to continue close cooperation with the US in coming years.”

But increased PLO sabre-rattling, talk of war from both official and unofficial sources in China and an unprecedented number of Chinese warplane incursions into Taiwanese airspace has left defence experts uncertain about the transition period before President-elect Biden takes office.

Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, Foreign and Defence Policy Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute has warned the US not to “push the envelope” on the issue – or risk triggering a potentially catastrophic conflict.

Dr Mastro issued her chilling assessment during an interview on Washington-based National Public Radio (NPR).

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She said: “Taiwan has always been the number one priority. But the military’s role in promoting their views on Taiwan have increased this year.

“Xi Jinping almost two years ago gave this speech in which he said that he wanted to see concrete progress towards reunification with Taiwan.

“Now, before, the position of Beijing had always been to prevent independence.

“Now, my view is that this speech basically changed what the standard is.

“Now it’s not enough for Taiwan not to be independent. They have to be making moves towards reunification.

“And so, more and more, they’re using military forms of coercion to get Taiwan there.”

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