China sends dozens of warplanes and ships near Taiwan to show its anger over island’s new leaders

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In this photo released by the Taiwan Coast Guard, a Chinese navy vessel identified as the Chinese Missile Frigate FFG 548 is seen near the Pengjia Islet north of Taiwan on May 23. (AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan, May 25, (AP): Taiwan tracked dozens of Chinese warplanes and navy vessels off its coast on Friday, the second day of a large military exercise launched by Beijing to show its anger over the self-governing island’s inauguration of new leaders who refuse to accept its insistence that Taiwan is part of China.
China has issued elaborate media statements showing Taiwan being surrounded by forces from its military, the People’s Liberation Army. A new video on Friday showed animated Chinese forces approaching from all sides and Taiwan being enclosed within a circular target area while simulated missiles hit key population and military targets.
Despite that, there was little sign of concern among Taiwan’s 23 million people, who have lived under threat of Chinese invasion since the two sides split during a civil war in 1949. Taiwan’s parliament was mired on Friday in a dispute between political parties over procedural measures, and business continued as usual in the bustling capital of Taipei and the ports of Keelong and Kaohsiung.
The defense ministry said it tracked 49 Chinese warplanes and 19 navy vessels, as well as coast guard vessels, and that 35 of the planes flew across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the two sides, over a 24-hour period from Thursday to Friday.
Taiwanese marine and coast guard vessels along with air and ground-based missile units have been put on alert, particularly around the Taiwan-controlled island chains of Kinmen and Matsu just off China’s coast and far from Taiwan’s main island.
“Facing external challenges and threats, we will continue to maintain the values of freedom and democracy,” Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te told sailors and top security officials Thursday as he visited a marine base in Taoyuan, just south of the capital, Taipei.
The Pentagon said the United States was “monitoring very closely” the joint Chinese drills. It said Beijing’s actions “are reckless, risk escalation, and erode longstanding norms that have maintained regional peace and stability for decades.”
“We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint,” it said.

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