TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China announced Thursday it would hold live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait on April 18, in what looked like an escalation of President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) aggressive stance against Taiwan Independence and on disputes in the South China Sea.
The statement on the website of a Fujian Province maritime department said that sea traffic would be banned on April 18 from 8 a.m. until midnight in an area in the Taiwan Strait due to live-fire drills.
The area was demarcated on the website as falling between four points on the map, namely 24-52.9N/118-50.0E, 24-52.9N/118-55.9E, 24-42.6N/118-55.9E, and 24-42.6N/118-50E, the United Daily News reported. The area lies north of the Taiwanese-held island of Kinmen, close to the coast of Fujian and near the city of Quanzhou.
The website did not provide any further details about the nature of the live weapons to be fired.
Ever since Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was sworn in as president in May 2016, China has been taking a more aggressive stance on Taiwan issues, dropping direct talks and sending military aircraft and vessels close by the island.
In the run-up to Taiwan’s first direct presidential elections in 1996, China fired missiles at waters close to the island, though the tactic still resulted in the re-election of President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).