Taiwan is on alert as China steps up operations in the sea and skies around the island [Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA]

Taipei, Taiwan – Beijing has escalated the number and intensity of military drills around Taiwan in recent weeks, making risky manoeuvres that appear set to test the political waters in Taipei and Washington while signalling the mainland’s continuing animosity towards Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, who was re-elected in a landslide in January.

While China has long held military exercises in Taiwanese territorial waters and airspace, this month the People’s Liberation Army Airforce conducted a 36-hour endurance exercise. Just last week, China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning and a convoy of five warships sailed close to Taiwan through the Miyako Strait, according to Taiwanese media. In March

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