A Taiwanese military helicopter lands aboard the landing platform dock Yushan at Zuoying Naval Base, Taiwan, Jan. 12, 2023.

A Taiwanese military helicopter lands aboard the landing platform dock Yushan at Zuoying Naval Base, Taiwan, Jan. 12, 2023. (Seth Robson/Stars and Stripes)

Dozens of Chinese aircraft and numerous warships approached Taiwan on Monday as Beijing continued its third day of drills around the island following last week’s meeting between Taiwan’s president and the U.S. House speaker.

Taiwan’s military monitored the Taiwan Strait as 70 Chinese aircraft and 11 ships approached the island around 6 a.m. Monday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced on Twitter. The ministry said 35 aircraft crossed the strait’s median line in the southwest and southeast.

The numbers repeated Chinese military activity Sunday evening, when 71 aircraft and nine ships were spotted near Taiwan, with 45 aircraft crossing the median line, according to Sunday tweets from the Taiwan defense ministry.

Beijing on Saturday announced the three-day series of drills around Taiwan, dubbed Joint Sword, which it called a “serious warning against the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces colluding with external forces and provocations,” according to China’s Defense Ministry.

The announcement didn’t specifically mention Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen meeting Thursday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, where the two lauded U.S.-Taiwan relations. But the exercises followed days of warnings from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that Beijing would “take resolute measures to safeguard our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan to be a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, possibly by force.

Chinese forces on Saturday carried out “simulated joint precision strikes against key targets” on and around Taiwan and “continued to maintain the momentum of encircling the island,” China’s Eastern Theater Command said from its official Weibo account.

A video from the same account showed Chinese bombers flying over the strait on “combat readiness patrols” and “land strike missions” on Saturday as well.

Tsai on Saturday hosted a delegation led by U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul in Taipei, where Tsai doubled down on her commitment to build a partnership with Washington.

“We will continue to work with the US and other like-minded countries to jointly defend the values of freedom and democracy,” she said Saturday in a news release.

Outside of military exercises, China has also taken other measures in response to Tsai and McCarthy’s meeting. Beijing on Friday imposed a travel ban and sanctions against the Hudson Institute, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and their top executives for providing a platform for “Tsai Ing-wen’s ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities in the U.S.,” China’s Foreign Ministry announced that day.

The Chinese coast guard also launched a three-day “special joint patrol” of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday that included “on-site inspections” of cargo ships, just hours before McCarthy and Tsai were scheduled to meet.

Taiwan has repeatedly protested China’s response to Tsai’s meetings with U.S. politicians, with Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry saying in a Saturday tweet that Taiwan “will never bow to [People’s Republic of China] bullying” and that the exercises will “only toughen our resolve to fight for our freedom & sovereignty.”

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Alex Wilson covers the U.S. Navy and other services from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. Originally from Knoxville, Tenn., he holds a journalism degree from the University of North Florida. He previously covered crime and the military in Key West, Fla., and business in Jacksonville, Fla.

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