China began a major military exercise near Taiwan on Saturday. It will take three days, according to international news agencies. It is in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the United States last week, where she met with Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the house of Representatives. China has sent dozens of naval ships and warplanes towards the island, which the country considers a renegade province.
In a brief statement, the Chinese military said it wanted to issue a warning to Taiwanese seeking independence. For China, Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy was a geopolitical provocation. Beijing had already threatened countermeasures. In addition to the military exercises, sanctions from China have also been announced this week. Thus, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where the meeting between Tsai and McCarthy was, can now no longer do business with Chinese companies and organizations.
Eight naval vessels and 42 combat aircraft were spotted near Taiwan on Saturday. Some of the planes, 29, crossed the median line, the informally agreed border line between Taiwan and China. There are regular Chinese military provocations around the island. That happened, among other things, after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, to Taiwan last year. In response, China organized a major military blockade around the island. Even then, dozens of combat aircraft and warships were involved.