Taiwan - China: Why has Beijing carried out 'war games' in the seas around Taiwan and Japan?

China has just ended three days of “war games” by the Chinese military around Taiwan in recent days – amid claims from Beijing that the island nation is taking steps towards formal independence.

State media in China said the country’s military had “successfully completed all tasks” in its three day drills in the waters around the island.

Here. we take a look at what is happening in Taiwan – and why.

What is happening in Taiwan?

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On Monday, the Japanese government Japan said the Chinese navy has conducted 120 flights from a military aircraft carrier near to Taiwan – and Japan - over the past three days.

Tokyo said 80 sorties had taken place from the Shandong aircraft carrier in waters east of Taiwan and south of Japan, while a further 40 flights had taken place by helicopters on the ship. Three warships were also in the waters, accompanying the Shandong.

“In response to the take-off and landing operations, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets,” the Joint Staff of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces added.

It also simulated strikes on the island.

Why is China carrying out drills around Taiwan?

China claims Taiwan as its own territory and opposes it having its own engagements with foreign governments.

Taiwan split with China in 1949 after a civil war and China’s ruling Communist Party says the island is obliged to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary.

Last week, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen made a diplomatic mission to the US, meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California – the most senior elected US official to meet a Taiwanese leader on American soil.

A US congressional delegation also met with Ms Tsai over the weekend in Taiwan after she returned. The trip, which also saw Ms Tsai meet two central American leaders in Belize and Guatemala, has been regarded as a symbol of Taiwan’s affiliations with the West.

Beijing has claimed that contact with foreign officials encourages Taiwanese who want formal independence, a step the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) says would lead to war.

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China also imposed a travel ban and financial sanctions on those associated with the visit.

How has China’s stance on Taiwan been received internationally?

The military action is an escalation of worsening relations in recent months with not only Taiwan, but foreign countries, including the US.

Last year, relations between the US and China worsened after then-US house speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-ranking US official to visit the self-governing island in 25 years. In retaliation for the visit, China halted dialogue with the US on climate change, military issues and anti-drug work.

War games akin to those taking place now were also launched in response to Ms Pelosi’s visit. These included a simulated blockade and invasion of the country and the firing of missiles over Taiwan, something which Beijing has not yet done this time, however, it is the first time drills like these have taken place in the Western pacific.

Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, said the recent action was on a par with that seen after Ms Pelosi’s visit last year.

Some 59 countries – as well as the European Union – have established unofficial diplomatic relations with Taiwan, including the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

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