© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and Taiwanese printed flags are seen in this illustration taken, April 28, 2022. Picture taken April 28, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s armed forces carried out another round of drills near Taiwan last week to improve joint combat operations, the People’s Liberation Army said on Monday, after the Chinese-claimed island reported a spike in activity.
Taiwan has complained for the past two years about frequent Chinese military activity nearby it, mostly concentrated in the southern and southwestern part of the island’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ.
Taiwan’s air force scrambled on Friday to warn away 18 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defence zone, and reported further incursions on Saturday and Sunday, though with fewer aircraft.
The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement that naval and air force assets carried out drills from Friday to Sunday to the east and southwest of Taiwan.
The exercises were to “further test and improve the joint combat capability of multiple services and arms”, it added, without elaborating.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said the equipment involved included bombers, fighters and anti-submarine aircraft.
No shots have been fired and the Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan’s air space, but in its ADIZ, a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
Japan last week reported eight Chinese naval vessels, including an aircraft carrier, passed between islands in Japan’s southern Okinawa chain, to the northeast of Taiwan.
Taiwan had also been carrying out pre-announced missile and other drills off its southern and southeastern coasts last week.
China has never renounced the use of force to bring democratically-ruled Taiwan under its control, and the Taiwan Strait remains a potentially dangerous military flashpoint.
Taiwan’s government rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the island’s 23 million people can decide their future.