Mainland China has adopted a more aggressive military posture towards Taiwan , holding more combat-readiness drills near the self-ruled island since the beginning of the year, according to analysts. The assessment came after the Chinese Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army conducted several large-scale joint combat-readiness exercises in the waters and airspace around Taiwan on July 8. While details on the drills were not released, Eastern Theatre Command spokesman Shi Yi told reporters that the command had stayed on high alert and strengthened military training for war preparedness. The drill coincided with US Senator Rick Scott’s visit to the island, where he met key Taiwanese leaders, including President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang. Another two Chinese combat-readiness drills in April and May were also held around the time of visits by US politicians to the island. In late May, US Senator Tammy Duckworth conducted a three-day visit to Taiwan and reiterated America’s support when meeting the island’s president. And in mid-April, six US lawmakers visited the island in an unannounced trip. The Chinese military denounced the visits , saying they put Taiwan in a dangerous position. Japanese lawmakers to visit Taiwan in a move likely to rankle Beijing Beijing has also increased regular military drills near Taiwan, conducting three large-scale exercises around Taiwan in May alone. Ridzwan Rahmat, principal defence analyst at global intelligence company Janes, said Chinese military operations had not only increased in tempo but also included a wider variety of military weapons and assets. “These operations have evolved from routine constabulary patrols to something more expeditionary in nature. In other words, China has been preparing its forces to not only defend the Taiwanese island, but also getting ready to pre-emptively strike a potential adversary before it is able to even approach the contested island,” Rahmat said. Rahmat noted that China’s operations had also intensified in and around Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines. “From China’s perspective, it is crucial that this waterway remains unimpeded and free from hostile submarines during warfare,” he said, adding that most military operations had focused on the channel and taken a route through it. Song Zhongping, a former Chinese military instructor, said the Chinese military had to increase the frequency and intensity of drills to strengthen its power and prepare for real conflict. New aircraft carrier seen to give PLA an edge in Taiwan Strait “I believe that future drills will further expand in scale and intensity if Taiwan edges closer to the US,” Song said. “This is a natural response from China’s years of exercises in the region and also a practical way to enhance Beijing’s containment ability.” However, Derek Grossman, a senior defence analyst from US think tank Rand, said he did not see any major changes in Chinese military posture or exercises related to Taiwan. “Everything seems to be status quo, including the new elevated number of Chinese military aircraft entering Taiwan’s ADIZ on a routine basis,” he said, referring to the island’s air defence identification zone From 2020 to 2021, Chinese sorties more than doubled to 950, reaching an average of 2.6 flights per day, according to a February article by Grossman.