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Taiwan: China continues military drills despite international condemnation

Taiwan has confirmed that fighter jets have zoomed past the island’s territory but stopped short of giving precise details, citing intelligence sensitivity.

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

China says that it conducted joint combat exercises around the Taiwan Strait “on an unprecedented scale” on Thursday, as Taiwan slammed its neighbour for jeopardising the island nation’s security. 

China’s live military drills, aimed at sabre-rattling and conveying displeasure at the recent US-Taiwan meeting, began on Thursday as promised by the CCP. 

As of Friday afternoon, IST, China was continuing to hold the ‘biggest-ever military drills,” around Taiwan, the BBC reported. 

It came following a high-profile visit by the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the island that infuriated Beijing. Pelosi was the highest ranking US official–second to the Presidency–to visit Taiwan.  

The People’s Liberation Army (Eastern Theatre Command) reportedly launched over a handful of ballistic missiles during long-range live-fire drills on Thursday at around 1 p.m., precisely striking targets in the eastern Taiwan Strait. 

  1. According to Reuters, as many as four Chinese missiles flew past the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, which has been seen as a dramatic escalation of the situation. Taiwan and China are divided by a mutually-marked territory in the ocean called the median line, and neither typically crosses it. 

But China appears to have breached the line for the second day. 

In the waters around Taiwan Island, more than ten warships and frigates participated in coordinated blockade operations, China’s state-owned Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. 

More than 100 warplanes, including fighters and bombers, were flown by the air force and naval aviation corps, which China claims are part of the “combat training drills.”

Taiwan has confirmed that fighter jets have zoomed past the island’s territory but stopped short of giving precise details, citing intelligence sensitivity. 

Following the drills, Japan launched a diplomatic protest on Friday after Tokyo claimed that five of nine ballistic missiles fired at its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for the first time.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that “China’s actions this time around have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” and that he has called for an “immediate cancellation of the military drills.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s comments came during a press briefing after meeting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for breakfast. Pelosi is in her final days of the highly-anticipated Asia trip and is set to return to the US soon. 

China considers Taiwan as its own, and Nancy Pelosi’s Wednesday visit to the island nation sparked fury in China, which sternly warned against such a visit. 

Even before Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan, which was not publicly announced by the US government, China was hard-pressing both the US and Taiwan to avoid the possibility of a visit. 

Even before Pelosi set foot on Taiwan, China released a wave of sanctions against Taiwan, seizing the export and import of certain consumables worth hundreds of billions of dollars between the nations. 

As of Friday, China will continue to hold the military drills as scheduled, AFP reported, despite strong-worded statements from the US, EU, Japan, and G7. 

The United States, the European Union and Japan have formally issued firm statements urging China to avoid “miscalculations” and stop the military drills surrounding Taiwan. 

John Kirby, a White House spokesman, told reporters that “China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.” 

Not about changing the status quo

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan triggered what is being widely called China’s largest-ever military drill around the island nation that separated from the mainland after the 1947 civil war. 

However, the US has been vocal about its intentions for the Taiwan visit. The US continues to hold on to its intention to not support Taiwan’s status quo or interfere in its positioning with Beijing. 

Pelosi and her delegation that visited Taiwan said in a statement that the visit “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

Reiterating our support for our partner (Taiwan) and furthering our common interests, such as establishing a free and open Indo-Pacific region, will be the main topics of our discussions with Taiwan’s leadership, according to the statement.

During her visit to Taiwan, Pelosi praised Taiwan’s democracy, economic achievements, and – in a subtle jab at China – its record on human rights, saying that Taiwan was the first Asian country to permit same-sex marriage and has supported LGBTQ rights.

On Friday, after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Nancy Pelosi reiterated at a news conference: “We have said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region.”

“The Chinese government is not pleased that our friendship with Taiwan is a strong one,” Reuters quoted the 81-years of US lawmaker as saying.

“It is bipartisan in the House and in the Senate; (there is) overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”