China expands military drills, intensifies threats against Taiwan
China’s Maritime Security Administration on Saturday announced five exclusion zones in the Yellow Sea where exercises would take place from Aug. 5 to 15, as well as four additional zones in the Bohai Sea where a month of Chinese military operations will not take place. specified would take place from August. 8.
Although China officially seeks what it calls “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan – which has never been ruled by the Communist Party of China – it also constantly threatens to take the island by force if the Taipei government declares its formal independence.
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The diplomatic fallout from the visit escalated sharply on Friday when Beijing imposed sanctions on Pelosi and his immediate family, canceled military dialogues and suspended climate talks and other bilateral cooperation on issues such as transnational crime. .
The White House has summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang for “irresponsible” military actions, including firing missiles into the waters around Taiwan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the exercises an “extreme, disproportionate and incremental military response”.
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But China has shown no signs of slowing down the pace of military exercises. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said on Sunday that it would continue joint air and naval exercises in areas around Taiwan as planned, focusing on long-range strikes against targets in the sky.
After a record number of Chinese warplanes flew near Taiwan’s airspace on Friday, 14 jets crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday as 14 Chinese warships were active nearby. Three years ago, crossings of the informal boundary that divides the waterway were unheard of.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry described the Chinese exercises on Saturday morning as a “simulated attack on the main island of Taiwan”.
Taiwan also reported drones and unidentified objects flying over Kinmen and Matsu, two Taiwan-ruled islands closest to the coast of China’s Fujian province. The Kinmen Defense Command on Saturday fired flares at three drones that flew over its restricted waters.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the PLA-affiliated National Defense University, told state-run China Central Television in an interview published on Sunday that the exercises were aimed at “completely crushing the so-called middle line” and to demonstrate China’s ability to prevent foreign intervention in a conflict by blockading and controlling the Bashi Channel, an important waterway between the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
Military analysts said Chinese live-fire drills that began Thursday and took place on all sides of Taiwan simulate a potential blockade of the island, but the Taiwanese government said disruptions to shipping routes and flights were so far limited.
Pelosi ended the congressional delegation’s Asian tour on Friday, vowing that China would not succeed in isolating Taiwan.
The Chinese Communist Party has for decades waged a global pressure campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan’s democratically elected government by poaching diplomatic partners and fiercely opposing exchanges between Taipei and foreign officials.
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China accuses the United States of undermining its “one China” policy – which neither disputes nor endorses Beijing’s claims to the island – with moves to cement its unofficial ties with Taiwan, including the first visit by the Speaker of the House in 25 years. The White House maintains the policy is unchanged.
Despite unprecedented military pressure, the Taiwanese public has remained largely calm in the face of escalating Chinese threats. President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday, “We are calm and will not act hastily. We are rational and will not act to provoke.
Annual Taiwanese military drills conducted the week before Pelosi’s visit have not been changed despite increasingly furious warnings from Beijing. As the drills began, local media reported that tourists visiting Xiaoliuqiu, a small island off the southwest coast of mainland Taiwan, were flocking to shore to see if they could spot any Chinese missiles landing in the waters. neighbours.
On Friday, the Taiwan Stock Exchange had recovered from a brief decline in midweek.
Pei Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.