China to hold military drills with neighbor
The Falcon Strike 2022 joint exercises between the Thai and Chinese air forces are scheduled for Sunday
Chinese fighter jets, bombers, and airborne early warning aircraft will be dispatched to Thailand for joint exercises, China’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday.
The Falcon Strike 2020 drills will be held on Sunday at the Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in northern Thailand near the border with Laos, the ministry said in a statement.
They will include activities such as air support, strikes on ground targets, and small- and large-scale troop deployment, it added.
The goal of the exercise is “to enhance mutual trust and friendship between the air forces of the two countries, deepen practical cooperation and promote the continuous development of China-Thailand comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership,” the ministry said.
The wargames will take place amid a spike in tensions in the Indo-Pacific region following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in early August. China, which views the self-governed island as part of its territory, was angered by the move and responded by staging the largest ever naval and air force drills around Taiwan.
The US is also holding joint exercises in Indonesia, along with the Australian, Japanese, and Singaporean forces. By taking part in the drills – Super Garuda Shield – the countries involved are signaling their stronger ties amid Beijing’s attempts to expand its influence in the region, the US Indo-Pacific commander, Admiral John C. Aquilino, said on Friday.
“The destabilizing actions by China as it applied to the threatening activities and actions against Taiwan is exactly what we are trying to avoid,” Aquilino said, adding that the US will “continue to help deliver a free and open Indo-Pacific and be ready when we need to respond to any contingency.”
Despite officially recognizing Beijing as the sole legitimate authority in China since 1979, the US maintains strong unofficial ties with Taiwan, selling weapons to Taipei and supporting its push for independence.
The Chinese authorities have long protested these efforts, saying they infringe on China’s sovereignty and only increase tensions in the region, while also promising to act resolutely to protect its territorial integrity.