Chinese military extends drills near Taiwan after Pelosi trip

China Taiwan

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, planes from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command conduct joint combat training exercises around the island of Taiwan on Sunday, 7 August 2022. Li Bingyu/Xinhua via AP

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Chinese military said Monday it will continue military exercises around Taiwan, extending an unprecedented show of force in retaliation for a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island last week, which raised the potential for conflict involving Beijing, Taipei and Washington.

After four days of military drills encircling Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said in a Weibo microblog post that it was “continuing” the drills, with emphasis on anti-submarine combat and maritime assaults.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday that the drills were meant to “send a warning” to those seeking Taiwan independence.

Recent military maneuvers have raised tensions in the Taiwan Strait to their highest level in decades, threatening key shipping routes and trade in a region crucial to global supply chains.

Since Thursday, the PLA has fired missiles around Taiwan and sent more than 200 military planes and more than 50 warships to threaten the island – including 39 planes and 13 warships on Monday – according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. . Dozens of Chinese military planes crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial maritime border between Taiwan and China.

The trip to Taiwan by Pelosi, D-California, and a congressional delegation has sparked outrage from Beijing officials, who say self-governing democracy is an inseparable part of China and chafe at high-level visits level of foreign dignitaries. Beijing has sought to isolate Taiwan by pushing back against its allies and pushing it away from international organizations.

In response to that visit, China launched military exercises, imposed sanctions on Pelosi and his family, and canceled or suspended talks with Washington on issues including climate change, drug trafficking and military matters.

On Monday, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian defended the cancellation of military talks in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit, calling Beijing’s countermeasures a “necessary warning” to Washington “not to not take the wrong path”.

“We urge the US side to respect China’s core interests and concerns and abandon this illusion of using the Taiwan issue to contain China,” Wu said in remarks broadcast by state broadcaster China Central. Television (CCTV).

According to plans released by state media, the drills in six areas targeting Taiwan from all sides would have brought Chinese military maneuvers closer than ever to the shores of Taiwan’s main island, encroaching on the 12 nautical mile zone that Taiwan claims as its territorial waters. But Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Monday that no Chinese warships or aircraft had entered its territory.

The exercises, which began on Thursday after Pelosi left Taipei – a sign that Beijing did not want to provoke a direct military confrontation with the United States – were originally scheduled to end on Sunday.

Taiwan’s transport ministry said on Monday that some flights and shipping routes were returning to normal after disruptions in recent days. The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command did not say when its drills would end. The Taiwanese military has raised its alert level and deployed ships and a land-based missile system to monitor the situation.

Chinese military analysts have described the crisis as a way for China to establish a new normal in the Taiwan Strait. CCTV reported on Sunday that PLA warships will now “carry out regular training” across the “so-called middle line”. The report stated, “There are no so-called ‘Taiwanese territorial waters.’ Taiwan is part of China and the Chinese navy sails in its own territorial waters.

Yet such bullying can undermine Beijing’s goals. Chinese leaders, including President Xi Jinping, have repeatedly pledged their commitment to peaceful unification with the Chinese mainland, but said the PLA would use force if necessary.

Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement on Sunday that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) aggressive military posture has only succeeded in driving citizens away.

“The mainstream public opinion in Taiwan strongly opposes the CCP’s threat of force,” he said, citing the results of a poll released in June in which more than 90 percent of respondents said oppose China’s diplomatic crackdown on Taiwan. “It is entirely the result of the CCP’s wrong policy and misapprehension of the situation,” he said.

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Pei-Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

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Post expires at 12:13pm on Thursday August 18th, 2022