Taiwan Strait: Live fire in the sky


The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) carried out live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait earlier today. State media have not promoted news about the exercises heavily, but you can see official video footage on Xinhua News Agency’s website. The drills come after last week’s naval parade in the Taiwan Strait, the largest ever by PLAN.

  • “Cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” is how Taiwan’s defense ministry characterized the drills and China’s recent rhetoric, according to Reuters.
  • “Attempts to intimidate the island wouldn’t work,” said a Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman, who described the drill as “small-scale,” reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall).
  • “China scaled down” the drill, says the South China Morning Post, “after both sides appeared to have decided to reduce tensions.” The article says the exercises were “meticulously planned to avoid triggering strong reactions,” and that the “Taiwanese military also cancelled a scheduled cannon drill.”
  • Unofficial Chinese media was more jingoistic. For example, China.com warned that the live-fire drill is nothing compared with what may come next, a cruise around Taiwan’s shoreline by a battleship, while Sina called the drills a “bullseye assault on ‘Taiwan independence’” (both links in Chinese).
  • The People’s Daily tied the past week’s military exercises to the current National Security Education Day propaganda campaign in a piece titled “Without national security, we are nothing” (in Chinese). As an argument for a strong military, the article mentions the Syrian civil war, and how China went through the same type of devastation in the bombing of Shanghai in 1937.