China announced it conducted “strike drills” around Taiwan, claiming it was a response to the “provocation” from the island nation and the United States.
The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army said it had conducted “joint combat readiness patrols and joint firepower strike drills” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan on Christmas Day.
“This is a resolute response to the current escalation of collusion and provocation from the United States and Taiwan,” the Chinese command said, Al Jazeera reported.
The Eastern Theater Command did not provide any other detail about the strike drills, but it vowed to defend China’s sovereignty amid alleged threats from Taiwan and the U.S.
“Theater forces will take all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it added.
Taiwan’s defense ministry condemned China’s latest move, calling it a “mentality of resolving differences by force and destroying regional peace and stability.”
Taiwan added that China’s “military intimidation” is aimed at sowing fear among Taiwanese people.
The latest Chinese military drills came after President Joe Biden signed the annual defense budget, which includes $10 billion in military assistance for Taiwan.
The Taiwan Enhanced Resilience Act (TERA), which was part of the 2023 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA), would provide $2 billion in annual military assistance for Taiwan in the next five years.
The law would also authorize the U.S. to provide an annual $1 billion emergency defense assistance to the island nation, the South China Morning Post reported.
According to the law, TERA aims to “prevent the People’s Republic of China from decapitating, seizing control of, or otherwise neutralizing or rendering ineffective Taiwan’s civilian and defense leadership.”
But lawmakers dropped proposals to sanction China’s top leaders and largest banks and designate Taiwan as a “major non-NATO ally.”
The new Taiwan law also did not include a proposal requiring Pentagon to create a “comprehensive training program” with the Taiwanese military.
While more U.S. military assistance is on the way for Taiwan, the two countries are also working to resolve reported delays in arms shipment.
U.S. Naval Institute News reported that $19 billion worth of arms shipments are currently delayed due to the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the arms included in the U.S. shipment backlog are the Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems and F-16 fighter jets.