China conducts military exercises near Taiwan, warns U.S. against collusion

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June 1 (UPI) — China recently conducted combat readiness patrols in the waters and airspace around Taiwan, Beijing’s military announced Wednesday, calling the exercises a “necessary action” in response to “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

“The troops in the theater continue to strengthen military training and preparations, improve their ability to perform their missions and resolutely thwart any external forces’ interference,” Col. Shi Yi of the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.

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Beijing views Taiwan as a wayward province and has ratcheted up a military pressure campaign over the past several months, alarming Washington, which has grown increasingly vocal in its support of the self-governing island.

U.S. President Joe Biden said last week that the United States would come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if China launched an invasion, sparking an angry outcry in Beijing.

On Monday, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth arrived in Taiwan on an unannounced three-day visit to discuss regional security and trade issues with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Washington’s support “will push Taiwan into a dangerous situation” and the United States “itself will face serious consequences,” Shi said.

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The statement did not specify when the combat readiness patrols took place, but Taiwan announced Monday that China sent 30 aircraft into its Air Defense Identification Zone, the largest incursion since January.

Beijing last week also said that it had conducted patrols and combat drills near Taiwan as a “solemn warning to the recent U.S.-Taiwan collusion activities.”

China’s “growing coercion” is amplifying tensions in the region to dangerous levels, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a speech last week.

“Beijing has engaged in increasingly provocative rhetoric and activity, like flying PLA aircraft near Taiwan on an almost daily basis,” Blinken said. “These words and actions are deeply destabilizing; they risk miscalculation and threaten the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.”

Taiwan’s military calls Beijing’s provocations “gray zone” warfare, meant to strain its defense capabilities and wear down its morale.

The self-governing island’s Air Force on Tuesday suffered its third crash of the year amid the frequent incursions, when an AT-3 jet went down on a training session in the city of Kaohsiung, killing its lone pilot.

China and Russia also conducted joint bomber drills over the Sea of Japan during Biden’s visit to Asia last week.

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