Daily Review: China Holds Military Drills Near Taiwan

Daily Review: China Holds Military Drills Near Taiwan
A Chinese J-11 military fighter jet flies above the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan, in China’s southeastern Fujian province, Aug. 5, 2022 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

China launched two days of military drills surrounding Taiwan earlier today in response to the inauguration speech given by Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Monday. The sea and air exercises around Taiwan and some of its islands have so far drawn close to, but not entered, Taiwanese territorial airspace and waters. (New York Times)

Our Take

Lai’s speech on Monday once again reiterated his and his party’s position of unyielding support for Taiwanese sovereignty, but it didn’t mark an escalation of that position. If anything, Lai’s speech has been characterized as striking a more conciliatory tone than his party, the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP, has in the past. He said he hoped to hold talks with China, which were halted after Lai’s predecessor—Tsai Ing-wen, also from the DPP—took office in 2016.

But if Lai was hoping to ease tensions with Beijing, that did not translate across the strait. As some observers have noted, it probably didn’t matter what Lai said in his speech. Given the tense state of cross-strait relations, it is likely that Beijing was always going to respond to the inauguration of another DPP president with a show of force. Still, that in and of itself is alarming, and not a good sign for those hoping that Lai may be able to improve relations after eight years of growing tensions.

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