China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday declared an end to three days of major military exercises it held around Taiwan in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
The drills included live-fire exercises and marked the largest Chinese show of force in the area since then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022. Beijing is strongly opposed to high-level US officials meeting with Taiwanese leaders as it views the contacts as an affront to the one-China policy.
The meeting with Tsai made McCarthy the highest-level US official to host a Taiwanese president on US soil since Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979. China made clear it would respond to the meeting in some way, but the warnings did not deter McCarthy.
The latest drills, known as the Joint Sword, were shorter than the exercises launched after Pelosi’s visit. But according to The South China Morning Post, the Joint Sword exercises were significant in testing Beijing’s ability to blockade Taiwan and launch precision strikes.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it detected 91 PLA aircraft and 12 vessels on Monday, the most PLA military assets it spotted during the three days of drills. Out of the 91 aircraft, 54 crossed the median line, an informal barrier that separates the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. China started regularly crossing the line in the wake of Pelosi’s visit.
Tensions between the US and China show no sign of waning, as Washington is not backing down from its policy of increasing cooperation and support for Taipei. When Tsai returned to Taiwan, she met with Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), who led a bipartisan delegation to the island. While in Taiwan, he told Fox News that sending US troops to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion is “on the table.”