In a show of force in crucial international shipping channels, China on Thursday began its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan. Following Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House, visiting the island, there will be a concert.
After defying several stern threats from Beijing, which regards the self-governing island as its property, Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday.
Pelosi made her journey to Taiwan, the highest-profile elected US official to do so in 25 years, “unequivocally clear” that the US would not turn its back on a democratic partner.
Beijing was incensed by the visit and threatened “retribution” and military exercises in the waters surrounding Taiwan, some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
According to official media, the exercises, which started at 05:00 UT, involve “live-firing.”
According to state broadcaster CCTV, “six important locations around the island have been picked for this genuine battle drill,” and during that time, “relevant ships and planes should not access the relevant waterways and airspaces.”
The exercises will end around noon on Sunday and will take place in various zones all over Taiwan, with some locations just 20 kilometers from the shore.
Taiwan made preparations for a conflict it does not want
The defense ministry of Taiwan stated that it was closely observing the drills.
In a statement, the Ministry of National Defence emphasized that it will uphold the idea of preparing for war without actively pursuing it, as well as a policy of not inciting conflict and provoking disagreements.
According to military analysts cited by Beijing’s state-run newspaper Global Times, the exercises were “unprecedented” and that missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time.
The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA as it is officially known in China, will be launching live long-range artillery across the Taiwan Strait for the first time, the daily reported.
The drills have been denounced by the Group of Seven industrialized countries, which said in a statement that there was “no reason to exploit a visit as pretext for aggressive military activities in the Taiwan Strait.”
Drills are “fair and essential.”
Beijing has defended the drills as “just and necessary,” blaming Washington and its partners for the escalation.
China is the sufferer in the present conflict over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, said Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the foreign ministry, during a routine briefing on Wednesday.
Additionally, a Chinese military source told the AFP news agency that the drills would be held “in advance of actual battle.”
The source stated that the Taiwanese side would be responsible for any consequences if the Taiwanese soldiers intentionally engaged the PLA and unintentionally fired a weapon.
Xi is being pressed by the ruling party
The 23 million residents of Taiwan have long faced the prospect of invasion, but under President Xi Jinping, China’s most forceful leader in a generation, that threat has grown more serious.
In front of a major ruling party gathering this autumn, where Xi is anticipated to be handed an unprecedented third term, the island is once again a flashpoint between the United States and a Chinese government eager to portray strength.
According to Amanda Hsiao, senior analyst for China at the International Crisis Group, “China’s stated military drills indicate a significant escalation from the existing baseline of Chinese military actions around Taiwan and from the last Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995–1996.”
Beijing is sending a message that it disapproves of Taiwan’s sovereignty.