Claim: An image on X shows China’s recent military drills near Taiwan.

Fact: The photograph is by Reuters’ photographer Carlos Garcia Rawlins, and it shows Taiwan’s navy conducting a drill as a display of power in January 2024.

On 24 May 2024, X user @Osint613 posted (archived) posted, “…the drills with China surrounding Taiwan are just a strong punishment for their separatist acts.” He shared an image alongside the post implying that it shows China’s navy conducting military drills around Taiwan. 

China did conduct a two-day military drill surrounding Taiwan on 23 May 2024, but the image in question is unrelated to the event.

China-Taiwan Relations

China began its two-day military drills surrounding Taiwan on 23 May 2024. Military drills are a show of power to Taiwan, intended as a “strong punishment” to the country that successfully witnessed the election of President Lai Ching, who is not a favourite of China.

On his inauguration day, on 20 May, the new president said that China should stop threatening Taiwan’s sovereignty and let the people decide its future.

Part of the caption in the misleading claim which states, “punishment for separatist acts”  has been taken from publications that reported about the two-day military drills.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check conducted a reverse image search of the photo on Google and found that it does not show China’s recent military drills around Taiwan.

According to the GMA News Online’s news report on 1 February 2024, the photograph of soldiers on boats, shows Taiwan’s navy conducting drills on 31 January “to show combat readiness ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, on the waters near a military base in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.”

The National Review published a portfolio of 17 photos of the same navy drill, showing the event from different angles. . The eighth image, showing the front angle of three boats mounted by military personnel, is a clearer version of the picture in the viral claim as well as an exact match of GMA News Online’s photo above. Another confirmation of the original source of the image can be found here.

Both publications, GMA News Online as well as the National Review, credited the image in question to Reuters’ photographer Carlos Garcia Rawlins. When we searched for the image with these keywords, it led us to the original Reuters’ link showing Taiwan’s navy conducting military drills.

Soch Fact Check therefore concludes the photo in a viral X claim does not show China’s recent military exercise around Taiwan.The image in fact shows Taiwan’s navy conducting drills earlier this year.


The X post garnered 10,200 views.

The image was also shared with a misleading claim on X here, here, and here.

Conclusion: A post on X claiming to show China’s recent military drills surrounding Taiwan, is misleading. China did conduct a two-day military drill surrounding Taiwan on 23 May 2024, but the image in question actually shows Taiwan’s navy conducting drills as a show of power earlier this year.


Background image in cover photo: Institute for Youth in Policy

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