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China has simultaneously been holding military drills in the South and East China seas as well as the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea, naval authorities said Monday, amid escalating tensions with Taiwan and the United States.

The authorities have prohibited ships from navigating in the waters where the exercises have been held, with state-run China Central Television airing footage of the People’s Liberation Army performing urban warfare drills.

The exercises, being conducted by a command based in Fujian Province facing Taiwan, are apparently aimed at landing on the island, which has been separately governed from the communist-mainland since they split in the wake of a civil war in 1949.

The Taiwan issue is one of the major disputes between China and the United States.

Washington switched its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been trying to boost ties with the democratic island by taking actions such as sending high-ranking officials to Taiwan.

A domestically produced Taiwanese F-CK-1 indigenous defense fighter jet is displayed at Penghu Air Force Base on Magong Island in the Penghu Islands on Sept. 22. | AFP-JIJI
A domestically produced Taiwanese F-CK-1 indigenous defense fighter jet is displayed at Penghu Air Force Base on Magong Island in the Penghu Islands on Sept. 22. | AFP-JIJI

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has raised the alert level and stepped up preparations for possible contingencies, with speculation growing that Trump may increase provocations against Beijing ahead of the U.S. presidential election in early November.

In Taiwan, meanwhile, fears are lingering that the communist-led Chinese government will attempt to achieve its cherished goal of reuniting the self-governed island with the mainland, by force if needed, foreign affairs specialists say.

China has repeatedly sent warplanes and spy aircraft near Taiwan in recent weeks, with some crossing over the sensitive “median line” across the narrow strait that separates the mainland and the self-governing island.

In an editorial earlier this month, China’s state-run Global Times said that the Chinese military had “accumulated experience in attacking Taiwan and mastered key data” on its defense systems via the drills, which it called “rehearsals on taking over Taiwan.”

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