The Chinese military “successfully completed” an exercise called Joint Sword, which simulated a blockade of Taiwan.
The large-scale military maneuvers in Taiwan’s vicinity involved air and naval assets, with the engagement of the aircraft carrier CNS Shandong.
“Multiple types of units conducted simulated joint precision strikes on key targets on the island of Taiwan as well as the surrounding sea areas,” the Chinese general staff explained.
The exercise, organized by the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), started on April 8, 2023, hours after French President Emmanuel Macron and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen concluded their official visit to China.
It also coincided with the meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarty.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense said the drills were a warning against “the collusive and provocative acts of the external forces and the Taiwan independence separatist forces.”
On the last day of the exercise on April 10, 2023, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense reported the presence of 91 Chinese military aircraft around the island, out of which 54 crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
The aircraft included several types of fighter jets, observation planes, a tanker, and even a TB-001 drone.
“[Taiwan’s] Ministry of National Defense emphasized that the national military uses mission aircraft, ships, and shore-mounted missile systems to closely monitor and respond,” the ministry said in a statement.
Japan military monitors Chinese activities
Taiwan was not the only nation monitoring the situation. On April 10, 2023, the Japanese Joint Staff Office released a statement detailing the operations of the CNS Shandong, which came as close as 230 kilometers to the Japanese island of Miyakojima.
“A total of about 120 departures and arrivals on the Chinese navy’s Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier Shandong were confirmed, including about 80 times by [J-15 – ed. note] fighter aircraft and about 40 times by ship-based helicopters,” the Japanese Joint Staff Office said in a press release.
The CNS Shandong, commissioned in 2019, was the first domestically built aircraft carrier of the Chinese Navy. It is based on the design of its predecessor, the CNS Liaoning, a sistership of the Russian Navy flagship Admiral Kuznetsov.