China says military exercises around Taiwan are intended as a direct threat to the self-governing island's government over moves Beijing sees as cementing its independence from the mainland.

Spokesman for the Cabinet's Taiwan Affairs Office An Fengshan said Wednesday the drills demonstrate China's "determination and capabilities to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity."

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under control by force if necessary.

Since her election in 2016, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused China's demand that she recognize Taiwan as a part of China. That prompted Beijing to cut off contact, step-up military exercises and work to increase Taiwan's diplomatic isolation.

Despite Beijing's threats and strong economic ties between the sides, surveys show few Taiwanese favor political unification with authoritarian, Communist Party-ruled China.