China wraps up war games around Taiwan, practicing for an attack as tension with U.S. mounts


Taipei, Taiwan — China said Monday that it had wrapped up several days of military exercises that saw it send dozens of warplanes buzzing through Taiwan’s airspace in a drill that simulated an attack on the democratically governed island just 100 miles off the Chinese mainland. The three-day exercises, using live ammunition, were practice for a complete encirclement of Taiwan by China’s military.

The drills were clearly meant to demonstrate China’s ability to cut the island off from the rest of the world, and they were a direct response to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-went meeting American congressional leaders last week during a stopover in California. China had warned the U.S. and Tsai against having those meetings, and made clear they would draw a “resolute” reaction.

But despite the war games taking place off their coastline — which for the first time included China sailing one of its two aircraft carriers, the Shandong, through Taiwanese waters — in Taipei, it was just another morning rush hour on Monday.

A Chinese Navy landing ship sails towards the zone where China said it would conduct live fire exercises, northeast of Pingtan island, the closest point in China to Taiwan, off China’s southeast Fujian province, April 10, 2023.


China also flew fighter jets into airspace claimed by Taiwan, but all the drills were too far away to be seen from the island. So, to make the point that this has been a rehearsal for war, China had to release video, and an animation of Taiwanese targets on its hit list.

None of it appeared to faze the Taiwanese we met, as they took a break on Taipei’s network of cycle trails. After all, said Diana Lee, the threats from China have waxed and waned for decades.

She said the Taiwanese people simply “have to live our life. We have other challenges to face.”

There’s no denying, however, that these are unusually tense times as two global superpowers face off over their island’s fate.

Taiwanese president meets with Kevin McCarthy in California


Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he will use force, if necessary, to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control, and the U.S. has signaled ever more explicitly that it would come to Taiwan’s defense.

Meanwhile, as President Tsai stood with senior American politicians on U.S. soil, openly asserting Taiwan’s independence, to Taipei resident Jolie Pan, it felt like playing with fire. She told CBS News she worried that Tsai’s words and actions could provoke China into abandoning its exercises and attacking for real.

To everyone’s relief, the Chinese drills that wrapped up in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Monday were just that – practice.

While it’s a good sign that all sides involved have continued to insist they don’t want it, they all know there’s a real potential for war over Taiwan.

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