One of the objectives of China’s last minute live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait this week was to send a message of support to Russia in the face of increasing tensions over Syria with the United States, according to experts.
The drill, which included the Liaoning carrier strike group and was the first in the region for three years, was primarily meant as an invasion threat against Taiwan, but that was not its only intention.
A source close to the People’s Liberation Army Navy told the South China Morning Post that the exercise was also intended to communicate Beijing’s support for Moscow in the face of U.S. threats.
“[US President] Donald Trump’s warning of military attacks on Syria forces was a bit of a surprise for Beijing and Moscow,” said the source. “As Russia’s strategic partner, Beijing is trying to cause some well-timed and controlled trouble for the US, a drill in the Taiwan Strait being the most plausible option that will benefit both Xi and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.”
Military analyst Antony Wong Dong came to the same conclusion, remarking, “Beijing is trying to give some relief to Russia from the unfolding disputes with the US over the Syria crisis.”
The live fire drills in the Taiwan Strait followed on from last week’s naval drills in the South China Sea which involved around 10,000 People’s Liberation Army airmen, marines and sailors, who boarded 48 naval warships and 76 aircraft. The exercise was China’s largest navy drill in 600 years.
According to author Steven Mosher, the exercise looked like something that would precede a world war.
“It reminded me of Mussolini reviewing his navy in the days leading up to World War II or Hitler reviewing his Panzer divisions,” said Mosher.
“There you have Xi Jinping, the new red emperor, dressed in a military uniform giving a very militaristic speech to his assembled servicemen who are shouting in unison praises of President Xi Jinping. It should send a chill through the spine of anyone who’s familiar with the history of the last few decades.”
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