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China, Australia political talks coincide with military exercises

A J-15 fighter ready to take off from aircraft carrier Shandong during the combat readiness patrol and military exercises around the Taiwan Island on April 9. Photo: An Ni/Xinhua.

The People’s Republic of China and Australia will hold a new round of political consultation talks this week, coinciding with the end of significant Chinese combat readiness security patrols encircling Taiwan.

The People’s Republic of China and Australia will hold a new round of political consultation talks this week, coinciding with the end of significant Chinese combat readiness security patrols encircling Taiwan.

PRC Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ma Zhaoxu will visit officials in Australia and Fiji this week to extend dialogues between the foreign ministries of each country, according to a PRC press conference on 10 April.

Earlier this month, Chinese destroyers, frigates, and anti-ship missile ships, fighter jets, bombers, support aircraft, ballistic and cruise missile units and military personnel from the People’s Liberation Army conducted Joint Sword exercises under real-combat conditions around Taiwan from 8 to 10 April.

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Military forces occupied large swathes of maritime areas and airspace in the Taiwan Straits, off the northern, southern coasts and the island’s east.

A number of simulated artillery and missile strikes against targets in Taiwan and surrounding waters were also reportedly carried out by PLA units, as well as “deterrence and suppression” activities.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theatre Command spokesperson said combat readiness security patrols around Taiwan and all tasks of the Joint Sword exercise have been wrapped up.

The troops of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command are well prepared to fight at all times and will resolutely crush separatist attempts for “Taiwan independence” and foreign interference in any form, the spokesperson said.

The military operations followed after a meeting between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and United States House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the US on 5 April.

The European Union has spoken out against the Chinese military exercises in a statement on April 8.

“We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, reaffirm our shared commitment to maintaining the rules-based international order, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and beyond,” the statement said.

“We are concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China, particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation.

“There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally. The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region.

“We call on the PRC not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region, and to resolve cross-Strait differences by peaceful means. There is no change in the respective one China policies, where applicable, and basic positions on Taiwan of the G7 members.

“We reiterate our shared and steadfast commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency, and maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstanding.”

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