China to stage major drills around Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi visit

PINGTAN, China: China’s largest ever military exercise encirclement Taiwan will begin on Thursday, in a show of force on key international shipping lanes following a visit to the island by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a trip despite a series of increasingly acrimonious threats from Beijing, which considers the self-governing island its territory.
Second to the presidency, Pelosi is the highest elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
She said her presence makes it “clearly clear” that the United States will “not abandon” a democracy ally like Taiwan.
The trip sparked a backlash from Beijing, which vowed to “punish” and announce military exercises in the waters around Taiwan – one of the world’s busiest waterways. .
The drills, scheduled to begin at 12pm (0400 GMT), will involve “training activities including live-fire drills”, according to an announcement in state media. .
They will take place in various areas surrounding Taiwan – at some points just 20 kilometers (12 mi) from the island’s coast – and will end at midday on Sunday.
The nationalist state-run Global Times newspaper said, citing military analysts, that the exercise was “unprecedented” and that the missile would fly over Taiwan for the first time.
“This is the first time that the PLA has launched a long-range artillery fire directly across the Taiwan Strait,” the newspaper said, using the Chinese military’s official name, the People’s Liberation Army.
The drills that have taken place since last Tuesday set the stage for the drills, with the official Xinhua News Agency reported that they had simulated a “joint blockade” of Taiwan.
Taipei has condemned these plans, warning that they threaten the security of East Asia.
Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said at a press conference on Wednesday: “Some of China’s exercise areas have intruded into the territorial waters of … (Taiwan).
“This is an absurd move to challenge the international order.”
The Group of Seven industrialized nations also condemned the planned exercises, saying in a statement that there was “no reason to use the visit as an excuse for aggressive military activity in the strait”. Taiwan Sea”.
Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Authority on Wednesday issued a warning to ships to avoid areas used for Chinese drills.
Taiwan’s cabinet said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes through the country’s flight information zone (FIR).
The island’s defense ministry said Taiwanese forces on Wednesday night fired flares to warn off a drone flying over Kinmen Island, just 10 kilometers from the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen.
The statement did not say what type of drone it was or where it came from.
Beijing has defended its military activities as “necessary and justifiable”, blaming the escalation on the United States and its allies.
“In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the United States is the provocateur, China is the victim,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference on Wednesday. .
A Chinese military source also told AFP that the drills would be held “to prepare for actual combat”.
“If Taiwanese forces deliberately come into contact with the PLA and accidentally open fire, the PLA will take strict countermeasures and all consequences will be borne by the Taiwanese side,” the source said.
Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has grown stronger under the President. Xi JinpingChina’s most assertive ruler in a generation.
Only 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait is a major international shipping channel and all that lies between democratic Taiwan and its giant authoritarian neighbour.
It is now a pivotal point between the United States, Taiwan and a Chinese leadership that wants to project strength ahead of a crucial ruling party meeting this fall, at which Xi is expected to serve a second term. three unprecedented.
“China’s published military exercises represent a clear escalation from the existing baseline of military operations,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst at International Crisis Group. China’s involvement around Taiwan and since the 1995-1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis.
“Beijing is signaling that it rejects Taiwan’s sovereignty.”
However, analysts told AFP that China was not aiming to escalate the situation beyond its control – at least for now.
“Obviously they realize that there is some limit to what they are willing to do,” Chong Ja Ian, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, told AFP.
“The last thing Xi wants is a random war,” said Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.

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