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China launches ‘punishment’ drills around Taiwan after inauguration of new president

Taiwan’s military says its forces are on alert and is confident it can protect the island as China’s state media report mock airstrikes with jets carrying live missiles

By Helen Davidson and Chi Hui Lin in Taipei

China has launched two days of military drills surrounding Taiwan, as “punishment” for what it called the “separatist acts” of holding an election and inaugurating a new president.

Chinese state media claimed that dozens of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jets carrying live missiles had carried out mock strikes against “high value military targets”, operating alongside navy and rocket forces. Propaganda images spreading online and republished by state media also mentioned China’s land-based Dongfeng ballistic missiles, but did not say if they were being used.

In response to the drills, Taiwan accused China of “irrational provocation and disruption of regional peace and stability”. The defence ministry said sea, air and ground forces had been put on alert, base security had been strengthened, and air defence and missile forces ordered to monitor possible targets. It was also preparing for cognitive warfare operations.

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