China’s Army held combat drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, a Chinese military official said on Wednesday, one day after China and Russia held their first joint military exercise since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
China and Russia both said that Tuesday’s exercise was not aimed at a third party and that it was part of routine measures to strengthen cooperation between the two nations. But the drills underscored a new geopolitical landscape in which close ties between China and Russia set the countries in opposition to the United States and its major Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.
Chinese and Russian officials have been strengthening their military ties in recent years, and the two nations have been growing closer in part because of the personal bond between China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Mr. Putin has pursued those stronger ties as he aims to oppose Western dominance.
China insists that Taiwan is a part of its territory and cannot exist as a sovereign nation, and Russia’s war in Ukraine has made American and Taiwanese officials acutely aware that an autocrat can order an invasion of a neighboring territory at any moment.
On Wednesday, a Chinese Army spokesman said that the drills near Taiwan — which came as President Biden visited the region — were a “solemn warning” to the United States over its “collusion” with Taiwan.
Mr. Biden said on Monday during a visit to Japan that the United States had a “commitment” to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it were ever attacked by China, drawing a firm line at a time of rising tensions. Mr. Biden also suggested that the United States would go further on behalf of Taiwan than it has in helping Ukraine, where it has sold weapons and provided intelligence but not sent in American troops.
The drills are the latest episode in a pattern of increasing incursions by China over the past year. Last week, on the day that Mr. Biden arrived in Asia, China sent 14 aircraft into the island’s air defense zone. Under Mr. Biden, the Pentagon has divulged more details about the sailings of American warships through the Taiwan Strait. Some analysts have worried that the brinkmanship could lead to an accident that could trigger conflict.
“This is a solemn warning to the recent collusion between the United States and Taiwan,” the spokesman for China’s Eastern Theater Command, Senior Col. Shi Yi, said in an online statement. “It is hypocritical and futile for the United States to say one thing and do another on the Taiwan issue and frequently encourage and support ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”
The statement said the exercises were a multiservice effort that combined “combat readiness” patrols with “actual combat drills.” In response, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that its military had used “joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance actions to effectively grasp the situation, and the current situation is normal.”