China’s military exercises last week which ‘sealed off’ the island of Taiwan may look less aggressive than those held in 2022, but in some ways, they are more concerning.

Despite not launching ballistic missiles over Taipei, which happened last year, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) simulated direct strikes on Taiwan, surrounded it with ships and planes, and on several occasions crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait. The PLA Navy deployed the aircraft carrier Shandong through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines after which it conducted take-off and landing drills on the Pacific side of the island close to Japanese territorial waters. Tokyo scrambled fighter jets in response and America’s US Nimitz aircraft carrier stayed nearby.