China Stages Missile Strikes and Bombing Runs on Taiwan Using Jets Loaded with Live Weapons

Taiwan China
Taiwan's Military News Agency/Anadolu via Getty Images

China stepped up its “punishment” military drill around Taiwan on Friday, staging mock missile attacks and bombing runs against the island, plus simulated attacks on foreign vessels that might come to Taiwan’s aid.

The Chinese jets participating in the drill were clearly armed with live missiles.

The first day of China’s military drill, which the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) described as “punishment” for Taiwan electing “separatist” President William Lai Ching-te, was a bit less provocative. There was plenty of belligerent rhetoric from Beijing, but Taiwanese officials said the PLA was not doing anything it had not done before, and the drill was not nearly as large as the military tantrum China threw after former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August 2022.


President-elect from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Lai Ching-te speaks to supporters at a rally on January 13, 2024, in Taipei, Taiwan. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

The second day of the latest exercise was more provocative, as Chinese bombers flew in attack formations, and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships practiced seizing control of the Taiwan-controlled islands near the Chinese coast.

Taiwanese security officials said the PLAN also practiced attacking foreign ships near Taiwan and harassing civilian vessels with coast guard ships.

On Friday, the PLA released an animated video that showed Chinese missiles destroying the Taiwanese cities of Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Hualien — attacks that would condemn millions of people to a fiery death if conducted for real. The video labeled China’s missiles as “sacred weapons to kill independence,” a slogan the PLA seems to have grown fond of.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Friday it monitored 49 Chinese warplanes, 19 PLAN warships, and seven coast guard vessels, which remains considerably smaller than the 2022 exercise held after Pelosi’s visit.

Chinese officials insisted the drill was a legitimate “law enforcement” exercise.

“As soon as the leader of Taiwan took office, he challenged the one-China principle and blatantly sold the ‘two-state theory,’” raged China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, referring to President Lai’s inaugural address.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin irritably rejected advice from the United States to act with restraint around Taiwan:

The U.S. is in no position to point its fingers at China. The tensions in the Taiwan Strait are caused by the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party] authorities’ attempt to solicit U.S. support for Taiwan independence and the attempt of some in the US to use Taiwan to contain China in the name of regional peace and stability.

“Anyone who connives at and supports Taiwan independence will get burned for playing with fire. Nothing will deter China from upholding national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang raged. “We will do anything necessary to thwart any attempt for Taiwan independence.”


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