Also on Saturday, the Theodore Roosevelt, a US aircraft carrier, entered the South China Sea with its accompanying strike group on what the Navy described as routine operations to ensure freedom of the seas.
While Chinese military officials did not necessarily plan drills with the new US administration in mind, the timing could have value for Beijing, said Drew Thompson, a former Pentagon official responsible for China and now a research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
I think its a mistake to assume that everything is a signal, he said. But certainly the operation is both militarily expedient in terms of training and experience but also a very useful political signal to not only Taiwan but of course the new Biden administration.
The Trump administration took a series of steps to elevate Americas relationship with Taiwan, sending high-level officials and approving weapons sales. Days before leaving office, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lifted rules that restricted contacts between US and Taiwan officials.
China considers self-governed Taiwan to be part of its territory to be united by force, if necessary. The United States severed formal links with Taipei when it recognised the government in Beijing in 1979 but still maintains extensive unofficial relations.
The Trump administrations late moves toward China, including a designation that its crackdown in the far western region of Xinjiang was an act of genocide, potentially complicated President Joe Bidens China policy.
But incoming officials have said that the United States would maintain a tough stance toward China while showing support for Taiwan. Antony Blinken, Bidens nominee for secretary of state, told a Senate confirmation hearing last week that he agreed with some of the Trump administrations views on China but not necessarily its tactics and would work more closely with US allies.
Taiwans de facto ambassador to the United States, Bi-khim Hsiao, was invited to attend President Bidens inauguration, the first such time a representative from Taiwan was asked to attend since 1979.
Shortly after Mr Biden was sworn in, Beijing announced sanctions against 28 Americans, including Mr Pompeo and other China hawks who it said had seriously violated Chinas sovereignty.
Some of those targeted had roles in deepening ties with Taiwan, including Alex Azar, the former secretary of health and human services, and former undersecretary of state Keith Krach, who both visited Taiwan last year; and Kelly Craft, the outgoing ambassador to the United Nations, who held a video call last week with Taiwans president, Tsai Ing-wen.
The New York Times