China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland. Now China is reacting with sharp words to the passage of a US destroyer through the Taiwan Strait. You can read more about the conflict between China and Taiwan in the ticker.

Wednesday, May 15, 5:32 a.m.: A few days before the inauguration of Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, China sent more than 40 fighter jets towards the East Asian island republic. In the past 24 hours, 45 aircraft were registered near the island, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday morning (local time) in Taipei. It was the highest number of fighter jets so far this year, after the previous high of 36 aircraft was registered in March. China sends military planes to Taiwan almost every day.

According to the ministry, this time 26 aircraft flew over the median line in the strait between Taiwan and China (Taiwan Strait) and entered the Taiwanese air defense zone north and southwest of the island. The Taiwanese military always has to react to this and in such cases raises its air force. Authorities also discovered six Chinese warships around the island.

There was initially no official reason for the increased number of Chinese military aircraft. Next Monday, however, Taiwan’s new president, Lai, will be inaugurated. The current vice president won the election in January for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is extremely unpopular in Beijing.

Sunday, May 12, 2024, 10:09 a.m.: Against the background of increasing tensions in the South China Sea, China reacted with sharp words on Friday to the passage of a US Navy ship near a disputed group of islands. “The U.S. actions seriously violate Chinese sovereignty and security,” military spokesman Tian Junli said Friday. The USA is thereby creating “security risks in the South China Sea” and is the “biggest destroyer of peace and stability in the region”.

According to military spokesman Tian, ​​the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey entered Chinese territorial waters near the Xisha Islands “illegally and without permission from Chinese authorities.” “Xisha Islands” is the Chinese term for the Paracel Islands. China sent naval and air force forces to “track and monitor” the ship “in accordance with laws and regulations” and they “issued an alert to redirect it away.”

The US Navy confirmed the ship’s passage, saying it had “asserted navigation rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands.” “Unlawful and expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to freedom of the seas,” it said.

China has established a number of military bases on the Paracel Islands, although Vietnam and Taiwan also lay claim to the island chain. The USA and its allies repeatedly send warships to the region to reinforce their claim to free passage.

Meanwhile, the Taiwan Air Force held a military exercise over the Penghu Islands, located a few kilometers from the Chinese coast and administered by Taiwan. Several fighter jets fired live ammunition, including missiles and US-made laser-guided bombs, according to video footage distributed by the Taiwan military news agency. These were “routine exercises” for the fighter jet pilots in which they practiced their “skills for precision strikes in air combat”.

The drills come 10 days before the inauguration of Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te, who won the election in January – and whom Beijing describes as a “dangerous separatist.” China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that will be reunited with the mainland should – if necessary with military force. In recent years, China has increased its pressure on Taiwan and regularly sends fighter jets and warships near the island.

Meanwhile, the Philippines and the US concluded joint military exercises in areas near disputed maritime areas. The so-called Balikatan exercises (“shoulder to shoulder” in the language widely spoken in the Philippines, Tagalog), took place on March 22nd.

Thursday, May 9, 2024, 10:42 a.m.: At the end of his trip to Europe, China’s head of state Xi Jinping is strengthening his country’s relations with its closest European allies Serbia and Hungary. Xi met President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Wednesday and later planned to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest. China has invested heavily in both countries in recent years; At the same time, Serbia and Hungary are the countries in Europe that have the greatest sympathy for Russia.

In front of the main government building in Belgrade, Xi was greeted with a gun salute and the Chinese anthem. To mark his visit, the streets of the Serbian capital were decorated with Chinese flags. The “Chinese friends” were warmly welcomed by thousands of Serbs on posters.

Vucic also described Xi as a “friend of Serbia.” “The respect and love that he will find here, in our Serbia, he will not find anywhere else,” Vucic added.

On the Taiwan issue, the Serbian president also reiterated his support for Beijing. “We have a clear and simple position on China’s territorial integrity,” he said to applause from Xi, according to state broadcaster RTS. “Yes, Taiwan is China.”

China views Taiwan as a breakaway province that should be reunited with the mainland, using military force if necessary. Beijing has been regularly sending fighter jets and warships near the island for several years.

China has invested billions of dollars in Serbia, primarily in mining and manufacturing. Last year, Beijing and Belgrade also signed a free trade agreement.

According to Serbian Finance Minister Sinisa Mali, the talks with Vucic were about a “big project”. “We want to attract a large investment from China in a very promising area,” he told RTS. It is the Chinese president’s first visit to Serbia since the corona pandemic.

Xi’s visit coincides with the 25th anniversary of the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999. Three people were killed in the mistaken attack, which was blamed on a tracking error by the US secret service CIA. NATO intervened in the Kosovo war to force Serbian troops to withdraw.

Before his arrival in Belgrade, Xi wrote in an op-ed for the Serbian daily “Politica” that China would never allow “such a tragic history to repeat itself.”

Vucic said on Wednesday about the incident: “Don’t forget that our Chinese friends were at our side 25 years ago when this country was destroyed and bombed.” China paid “a high price for this, they only have a few that day “People lost a hundred meters from here.”

Xi wanted to travel from Serbia to Hungary in the afternoon. Both Serbia and Hungary maintain good relations with the Kremlin despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Xi’s visit to Budapest is of “historic significance,” says Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. The last time a Chinese head of state was welcomed in Hungary was 20 years ago.

While the government in Budapest claims that Hungary benefits from its partnership with China, opposition parties denounce a lack of transparency, environmental damage caused by battery factories and corruption. “We are granting huge discounts for these projects, which represent an enormous financial burden for taxpayers,” criticizes Sandor Ronai from the socially liberal Democratic Coalition. “Only Orban’s inner circle is getting richer.”

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