World

China starts ‘punishment’ drills around Taiwan days after new president takes office

240522 taiwan president Lai Ching te ac 942p 81d9a7

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s military mobilized its forces and said it was confident it could protect the island, after China started two days of “punishment” drills around Taiwan on Thursday in what it said was a response to “separatist acts.”


The exercises, in the Taiwan Strait and around groups of Taiwan-controlled islands that sit next to the Chinese coast, come just three days after Lai Ching-te took office as Taiwan’s new president, a man Beijing detests as a “separatist.”


China, which views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, has denounced Lai’s inauguration speech on Monday, in which he called on China to stop its threats. On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Lai “disgraceful.”


Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but been rebuffed. He says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future, and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.