TAIPEI (Taiwan News) --- According to Chinese state media, the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy (PLAN) has been conducting exercises in waters close to Taiwan for over a week, since beginning the exercises on June 17.
According to Reuters, the group of Chinese warships includes a Type 054A frigate (Huanggang) and a Type 052C destroyer (Jinan), and they have been conducting regular exercises in the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines, and in the Taiwan Strait.
The announcement also claims the flotilla operated in the oceans off the coast of Taitung.
The announcement from the Beijing was made on the same day that U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in China for talks on military issues, and concerns regarding the Korean Peninsula.
Some media outlets predict that the militarization of the South China Sea and possibly Taiwan will be issues that Mattis brings up with officials in Beijing.
Regarding the drills, an army publication noted that the exercises “tested the military and training abilities of warship, aviation and coastal defense troops, via organizing real combat training in multiple areas of the ocean."
The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense (MND) issued a statement, as usual, following the news, stating that that the ships have been under surveillance since beginning the exercises.
The MND reported on June 22 that it had observed the transit of the frigate and the destroyer on June 20 moving south in the ocean off of Taiwan’s eastern coast.
It remains unclear whether or not the drills are still on going.
The drills are only the most recent provocation from the Chinese military, which has been staging increasingly frequent flights around Taiwan. In mid-April, China held a series of live-fire military drills near the Chinese shore in the Taiwan Strait.