An August 18, 2021 report by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media outlet Global Times focused on the previous day's joint live-fire assault exercises conducted by People's Liberation Army (PLA) near Taiwan. The drills were carried out with warships, anti-submarine warplanes, and fighter jets. Calling it a "necessary action," PLA Eastern Theater Command spokesman Senior Col. Shi Yi said that the drills were held "in response to recent collusion and provocations by the U.S. and Taiwan secessionists."
Left, Global Times tweet (Source: Twitter.com/globaltimesnews, August 17, 2021); right, PLA's amphibious armored infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) (Source: China Military)
According to the Global Times, the purpose of the PLA drills has recently shifted, and "are now being conducted not only for deterrence, but also to improve combat readiness for future contingencies." It also said that a possible attack on Taiwan would involve not just one theater command, but rather several commands working together, adding: "In this exercise, troops were deployed in the southeast and southwest, indicating that the PLA is capable of sealing off the entire territory of Taiwan's main island and laying siege to it. Furthermore... the exercise lasted only a short time, implying that it was intended to get into position and eliminate a target surgically with precision strikes, a blitzkrieg that can reach the objectives quickly."
The report also quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying as saying: "No matter how many weapons the U.S. provides to Taiwan, it cannot change the overarching trend of cross-Strait relations, let alone halt the process of China's reunification."
Chinese media said that the drills were held as the U.S. military had "lost credibility" after its "irresponsible, hasty, and embarrassing" troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Below are excerpts of the Global Times article, published originally in Chinese:
'Drills Are Now Being Conducted Not Only For Deterrence, But Also To Improve Combat Readiness For Future Contingencies'
"According to Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the PLA Eastern Theater Command, on August 17, the PLA Eastern Theater Command deployed combat ships, anti-submarine aircraft, fighter jets, and forces from multiple branches for joint live-fire assault drills to the southwest and southeast of Taiwan and its surrounding sea and air space, in order to to test the command's joint warfare capabilities.
"In an unusual move, the spokesman [Senior Colonel Shi Yi] stated explicitly that the exercise was a response to recent collusion and provocation attempts by the U.S. and Taiwan. Experts and scholars, interviewed by the Global Times on August 17, believe that this is a subtle but powerful signal [indicating] that the purpose of the drills has shifted: They are now being conducted not only for deterrence, but also to improve combat readiness for future contingencies. The PLA's exercise of 'encirclement of southern Taiwan' sent shockwaves throughout the island.
"Senior Colonel Shi stated on August 17 that the U.S.-Taiwan's frequent collusion and provocation attempts are a serious mistake that violates China's sovereignty and undermines peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Their actions have become the most serious threat to the region's security.
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"The exercise is a necessary response to the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait, a requirement to protect national sovereignty, and a firm answer to provocations by external and 'Taiwan independence' forces. The Eastern Theater Command will continue to strengthen its combat readiness, and it is determined and capable of thwarting all 'Taiwan independence' secessionist activities and resolutely defending China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"An expert told the Global Times, on condition of anonymity, that the publicization of the exercise's context, goals, and targets is significantly different from previous 'official announcements.' For starters, it revealed a lot more information, emphasizing its importance. Second, it conveyed determination and resolve, emphasizing its strategic aspect. Third, it demonstrated capabilities, emphasizing deterrence.
"Early on August 17, Taiwanese media began reporting on 'mainland warplanes flying around Taiwan.' According to Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), as of that day, PLA warplanes had entered Taiwan's airspace for a total of five days this month; data released by [Taiwan's] Ministry of National Defense shows that, as of August 16, PLA warplanes had entered Taiwan's airspace for a total of 131 days in 380 sorties this year, tying last year's total. The flight on August 17 shattered the previous year's record."
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson: 'No Matter How Many Weapons The U.S. Provides To Taiwan, It Cannot Change The Overarching Trend of Cross-Strait Relations, Let Alone Halt the Process Of China's Reunification'
"An analysis published on August 17 by Taiwan's [media outlet] Newtalk stated that the latest PLA exercises differed from previous drills in that they passed straight through the Bashi Channel and thrust out to Taiwan's southeastern waters, rather than being limited to the mainland littoral. It added that the mainland's Eastern Theater Command was aiming for Taiwan. Su Ziyun of Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, a think-tank under the auspices of [Taiwan's] Ministry of National Defense, speculated that the PLA's exercise in the southeast of Taiwan Island is intended to cut off the U.S. military's line of communication from the Bashi Channel into the South China Sea.
"According to public reports, the Eastern Theater Command frequently holds joint multi-branch exercises near Taiwan Island and the Taiwan Strait. With similar multi-branch drills that took place in February, August, and September of 2020, it is now fair to describe the command's exercises as an ever-increasing practice.
"While the exercises are becoming more frequent, their tactics used are constantly evolving. According to one expert, it is relatively easy for the PLA to deploy its forces in the northeast and west of Taiwan, and it is even easier to strike the island from afar. However, in this exercise, troops were deployed in the southeast and southwest, indicating that the PLA is capable of sealing off the entire territory of Taiwan's main island and laying siege to it. Furthermore, the press release stated that the exercise lasted only a short time, implying that it was intended to get into position and eliminate a target surgically with precision strikes, a blitzkrieg that can reach the objectives quickly.
"For quite some time, the U.S. and Taiwan have been colluding frequently with one another. In August alone, the Biden administration announced its first arms sale to Taiwan since he took office, as well as the first meeting of the U.S.-Taiwan Coast Guard Working Group. Previously, the Taiwanese press reported that the U.S. Coast Guard and the Taiwanese Coast Guard had conducted their first joint exercise, which the latter denied.
"According to military expert Song Zhongping, the resolution of the Taiwan question will involve not one theater command, but rather several commands. Regular drills will allow for skilled and polished operation plans, to be executed as military operations when needed. Such contingency plans, of course, take into account U.S. military involvement, in a variety of scenarios. 'It can be said that the exercises are now used not only for deterrence, but also to improve the ability to deal with unexpected events in the future,' [he said]...
"August 17 marks the 39th anniversary of the 'August 17 Communiqué' between China and the U.S., in which the U.S. clearly reaffirmed that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, and that it intends to gradually reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.
"On August 17, [China's] Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stated that the August 17 Communiqué, the Shanghai Communiqué, and the China-U.S. Joint Communiqué constitute the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, with the one-China principle at their core. They should be strictly followed by the U.S. side. However, the U.S. continues to break its own promises. [He stated:] 'No matter how many weapons the U.S. provides to Taiwan, it cannot change the overarching trend of cross-Strait relations, let alone halt the process of China's reunification.'"
 Globaltimes.cn, August 17, 2021; News.cgtn.com, August 17, 2021.
 En.people.cn, August 18, 2021.
 Sohu.com, August 18, 2021.
 "On August 17, 1982, after eight months of contentious negotiations, the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) issued the United States-China Joint Communiqué on United States Arms Sales to Taiwan, more commonly known as the August 17 Communiqué. The Communiqué addressed the troublesome issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in an effort to prevent the collapse of U.S.–PRC relations." See: History.state.gov/milestones/1981-1988/china-communique; China-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/doc/ctc/t946664.htm
 Joint Statement Following Discussions With Leaders of the People's Republic of China, commonly known as the Shanghai Communiqué, February 28, 1972. See: History.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1969-76v17/d203; China-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/doc/ctc/t36255.htm
Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America, December 16, 1978. See: China-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/doc/ctc/t36256.htm
 On August 17, 2021, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said: "There is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. The People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. It was on the basis of the one-China principle that China and the U.S. established diplomatic ties 42 years ago. On this day 39 years ago, China and the U.S. jointly issued the August 17 Communiqué. The U.S. side pledged that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution. The August 17 Communiqué, the Shanghai Communiqué and the China-U.S. Joint Communiqué constitute the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and their core essence is the one-China principle, which the U.S. side should strictly abide by.
"But what we see is the fact that the U.S. side has kept breaching its own commitment. It has engaged in official exchanges with the Taiwan region, sold arms to Taiwan and helped it to expand the so-called international space. Let's take U.S. arms sales to Taiwan as an example. Over the past 39 years, the total amount of arms sales to Taiwan by successive U.S. administrations has hit as high as nearly $70 billion. The Trump administration alone has sold arms to Taiwan 11 times in four years, totaling $18.3 billion. Not long ago, the Biden administration announced its first arms sale deal to Taiwan, approving a $750 million weapons sale to Taiwan. In response to all the wrong moves on the U.S. side, the Chinese side has made strong and resolute reactions to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and security interests.
"To solve the Taiwan question and realize the complete reunification of the motherland is the common aspiration of all the Chinese people. We are ready to make every effort with the utmost sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification. At the same time, we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures in response to the interference of external forces and the very small number of 'Taiwan independence' separatists and their activities. No one should mistakenly underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong capability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. No matter how many weapons the U.S. provides to Taiwan, it cannot change the overriding trend of cross-Strait relations, still less stop the process of China's reunification.
"A person without faith cannot establish himself or herself; a country without credibility will decline. China urges the U.S. to fully recognize the highly sensitive nature and serious harm of its arms sales to Taiwan, abide by the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, stop official contacts and military ties with and arms sales to Taiwan, oppose the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces and their activities, so as to avoid causing further serious damage to China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait." Fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/xwfw_665399/s2510_665401/t1900083.shtml, August 17, 2021.