China continued Saturday to project its anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, with its third consecutive day of military exercises that have come ever closer to the island and raised concerns. concerns about a potential conflict.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that several batches of Chinese military aircraft and warships had been detected around the Taiwan Strait, some crossing the informal median line that separates the island from the Chinese mainland. They appeared to be engaged in a drill simulating an attack on the main island of Taiwan, the ministry said.
Already, China’s show of force, which is expected to continue through Sunday, has threatened territory Taiwan considers its own more directly than any previous exercise.
China launched at least 11 missiles into waters north, south and east of Taiwan, including at least one that flew over the island, although Taiwan said it was at a high altitude that posed no threat. On Friday, it also deployed fighter jets, bombers, destroyers, drones and escort ships to waters near the island. Several of the areas designated by the Chinese military for exercises this week are closer to the island than the areas announced during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the mid-1990s, which also involved China firing missiles around from Taiwan.
Since the drills began on Thursday, at least 49 Chinese military aircraft have crossed the median line, according to Taiwanese officials.
Understanding China-Taiwan Tensions
What does China represent for Taiwan? China claims Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long vowed to take it back, by force if necessary. The island, to which Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese forces retreated after the communist revolution of 1949, was never part of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that China had “unilaterally created a crisis” by overreacting to Ms Pelosi’s visit.
“Taiwanese people have the right to befriend the rest of the world, and China has no right to interfere with the rest of the world befriending Taiwan,” the statement said.
The military drills are the most visible part of China’s response to Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which she said was intended to show support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Prior to her arrival on Tuesday, China had repeatedly warned that the move by Ms Pelosi – the highest US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years – would cause “serious consequences”. China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has promised eventual reunification, by force if necessary.
China also said on Friday it would cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts said could increase the risk of miscommunication turning into a crisis at large. full share.
At the same time, the United States is seeking to strengthen its ties with other Asian countries, as a counterbalance to China’s regional and global influence. On Saturday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila. In a public exchange, Mr Marcos told Mr Blinken he did not think Ms Pelosi’s visit had ‘raised the intensity’ of tensions in the region, which he said were already high – an apparent refutation of China’s claims that the United States was responsible for the current friction.
Fears that China would seek to physically prevent Ms Pelosi’s visit did not materialize. But US officials remain concerned that the drills, which began less than 24 hours after he left Taiwan, could yet escalate, intentionally or accidentally, into a more direct conflict.
Chinese officials, who have fostered a blustering and sometimes virulent nationalism at home, may feel pressure to show they are responding forcefully. Some Chinese social media users expressed disappointment or embarrassment that the government did not go further to prevent Ms Pelosi’s visit; some made it clear that they expected military action.
Even if the drills don’t directly escalate into a full-blown crisis, they could signal a new pattern of Chinese military aggression and incursions. The state-run tabloid Global Times said in an op-ed on Friday that work to promote reunification with Taiwan had “entered a new stage.”
The United States tried to avoid provoking China further. He said he remained committed to the status quo in Taiwan, acknowledging China’s stated claim to the island without acknowledging it. The Pentagon has ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “remain stationed” in the area, while maintaining some distance from the Taiwan Strait.
But China has made it clear that it views any criticism of its drills as an affront. He summoned several ambassadors after their countries expressed concern about the drills. After some of the Chinese missiles landed in waters Japan claims as its own on Thursday, prompting Japan’s prime minister to call for an “immediate halt”, a representative from the Chinese Embassy in Japan told Japan not to not “fall into the abyss” of geopolitical confrontation.
Amy Chang Chien, John Liu and Edward Wong contributed report.