Fact checks on militaries

FACT CHECK: US did not call China’s war games around Taiwan ‘an invasion’


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FACT CHECK: US did not call China’s war games around Taiwan ‘an invasion’
The US had expressed concern over China’s military drills near Taiwan last month but did not call it an ‘invasion,’ contrary to a video’s claim

Claim: The United States said China’s recent military drills around Taiwan are an actual invasion of the island.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video bearing the claim was posted on June 11 by a pseudo-investigative channel with 379,000 subscribers. As of writing, the video has 101,000 views and 2,000 likes.

The video is titled: “Pinas seryoso na to! Nagkukunwaring drill ng China, isa na palang ‘totoong pag atake sa Taiwan’” (Philippines, this is serious! A supposed drill by China is actually a real attack on Taiwan.)

Referring to China’s two-day war games around Taiwan last month, the video’s narrator says: “Ang pagpapakita ng Tsina ng isang pagsasanay ng militar sa pagpapalibot sa Taiwan ay tila baga isang pagsasanay. Ngunit binabanggit ng United States of Amerika, hindi na ito pagsasanay, kundi ito na ay isang pagsalakay.”

(China’s military drill surrounding Taiwan appears to be a practice drill. But the United States of America says this is no longer a drill, but rather, an invasion.)

The bottom line: The US never said that China’s recent military exercise around Taiwan was an invasion. The claim made in the video misinterprets comments by US Indo-Pacific Commander Samuel Paparo, where he says that the military drills held in late May “looked like a rehearsal” for an invasion of Taiwan.

The US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” over the Chinese military drills, adding that such an act “risks escalation and erodes longstanding norms that for decades have maintained peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” 

No reputable source from China, Taiwan, or the US substantiates the video’s claim on the drills being an “invasion.”


China-Taiwan tensions: China launched its military drills in the Taiwan Strait on May 23. According to Chinese military spokesman Colonel Li Xi, the drill – which involved the encirclement of Taiwan by Chinese air force, army, and navy – was both a “strong punishment” and a “stern warning” against Taiwan and its “separatist acts.” 

The drills were held three days after the inauguration of Taiwan’s new president, Lai Ching-te, who called on Beijing to stop its intimidation against the democratically-governed island that China claims as part of its territory under its One-China policy.

Amid increased military and political pressure from Beijing, Taiwan has said it is not seeking war with Beijing. US President Joe Biden has also recently made comments that appeared to suggest the US would defend Taiwan if it were attacked.

Debunked claims: Similar unsupported claims have been debunked by Rappler:

– Miguel Batallones/Rappler.com

Miguel Batallones is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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