China confirmed that it conducted military drills near Taiwan during President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Asia, in response to Biden’s public comment about the United States defending Taiwan militarily, if Beijing invaded.
Col. Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army, said the drills represented a “solemn warning to the recent U.S.-Taiwan collusion activities.”
The statement didn’t specify where the Chinese military drills were held. However, the Eastern Theatre Command acknowledged the exercises performed were “multi-service joint combat readiness patrols” and “actual combat drills” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan.
On Tuesday, it was reported that China and Russia flew nuclear-capable bombers in a joint military exercise, coinciding with President Biden’s Asia trip.
For the summit in Tokyo, featuring leaders from Australia, India, Japan, and the U.S., Russian and Chinese warplanes apparently conducted a joint patrol that lasted 13 hours in the region in what Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi characterized as a likely “provocation” by Moscow and Beijing.
“We believe the fact that this action was taken during the Quad summit makes it more provocative than in the past,” Kishi said of the Chinese and Russian exercises.
The patrols were the first joint exercise since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine launched on Feb. 24. But it’s still part of an annual military exercise, according to the China Defense Ministry website.
The two countries have previously conducted patrol exercises since 2019, but only during the latter half of a given year.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the Quad summit said they “discussed their respective responses to the conflict in Ukraine and the ongoing tragic humanitarian crisis.”
Biden’s frank response about the U.S. intervening in the event of a China invasion of Taiwan were quickly clarified by White House officials, who rationalized that it’s the same stance of previous presidential administrations.
Either way, the initial comment apparently incensed Chinese officials enough to ratchet up their provocations of Taiwan.
Under the “One China” policy, the U.S. recognizes Beijing as the representative government of China, but only acknowledges China’s claims to Taiwan.
At the same time, the Pentagon remains committed to ensuring that Taipei can defend itself under federal law.
In Wednesday’s statement, Shi reiterated Beijing’s position that Taiwan is part of China and said it was “hypocritical and futile” for U.S. officials to say one thing while encouraging the “Taiwan independence forces.”
Shi also said the Eastern Theatre Command’s troops are “determined and capable” of stopping any attempts of “Taiwan independence.”