China announces live-fire drill in Taiwan Strait
Exercise a ‘show of geopolitical support for Russia’ as regional tensions rise
China has announced plans to hold live-fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait next week, as tension in the Pacific continues to rise.
The live-fire drill, scheduled for 18 April, is both “a message to Taipei and a show of geopolitical support for Russia during its time of friction with the United States”, says The South China Morning Post.
The surprise announcement follows China’s largest-ever naval display in the disputed South China Sea, involving more than 10,000 navy personnel, 76 fighter jets and a fleet of 48 ships and submarines.
Chinese president Xi Jinping also made an appearance, giving a speech from the deck of a destroyer before watching fighter jets take off from China’s first and only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
“The mission of building a mighty people’s navy has never been more urgent than it is today,” Xi said. “Strive to make the people’s navy a first-rate world navy.”
The naval display was cut short by a day, says The Washington Post, and “no explanation was given for the curtailment of the drills or the Taiwan Strait exercise”.