By Vincent Pisani
The People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted a live fire military drill between July 18th and July 23rd in the East China Sea. Reports from Chinese state media indicate that these drills were meant to be a warning toward Taiwan, with the exercise zone being claimed as similar in size to the island. Maritime traffic between Wenzhou and Zhoushan, just south of Shanghai, was restricted as a result of the exercise. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense was more pessimistic about the reported exercise with their official statement indicating that the drills were routine and urged calm. China over the course of the last year has taken a more aggressive stance toward Taiwan, with a noticeable rise in rhetoric directed toward the island which is viewed as a territory in revolt by Beijing. However; Taiwan’s position that these drills are routine means that there will likely be not change in tensions in the Taiwan strait as a result of these exercises. In the interim it is important to monitor Beijing’s rhetoric on the status of Taiwan and any potential military provocations as these are our most likely means of gauging China’s intent going forward.