As part of its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, China on Thursday launched ballistic missiles, sent in fighter jets and brought in warships. This show of force was in response to United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
Pelosi defied a number of stern warnings from Beijing, which considers the self-governing island part of its territory, becoming the most high-profile US politician to visit Taiwan in years.
China has undertaken a number of retaliatory exercises, traversing some of the world’s busiest shipping channels and sometimes just 12 miles from the island’s coast.
According to the Chinese military, the drills included a “conventional missile firepower attack” in waters east of Taiwan.
According to Eastern Theater Command spokesman, Senior Colonel Shi Yi, the mission was to test the accuracy of the missiles as well as their ability to prevent an adversary from entering or controlling a space.
Taiwan alleged that the Chinese military had launched several Dongfeng-class ballistic missiles and denounced the drills as “irrational activities that jeopardize regional peace”.
According to a Taiwanese source who was briefed on the drills, Chinese navy ships and military aircraft crossed the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait several times during a brief period.
In order to keep track of several Chinese planes that crossed the border, Taiwan launched jets and deployed missile systems.
According to Reuters, his source said: “They flew in several times before leaving. They continue to bother us.
Beijing said Sunday’s drills would end at noon.
According to military analysts quoted by the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times, the exercises were “unprecedented” and missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time.
Beijing has defended the exercises as “necessary and fair”, 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 provocateurs, China is the victim,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing on Wednesday. .
A Chinese military source also told AFP that the drills would be held “in preparation for actual combat”.
“If Taiwanese forces willfully come into contact with the PLA and accidentally fire a gun, the PLA will take severe countermeasures, and all consequences will be borne by the Taiwanese side,” the source said.
The movements are occurring along some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, which are used to transport semiconductors and electrical products made in East Asian manufacturing hubs to international markets.
Ships are advised not to enter locations used for Chinese drills by the Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau.
The drills, according to the Taiwanese cabinet, will affect 18 international routes that cross its flight information area (FIR).
Pelosi told reporters in Japan, reiterating remarks she made at her earlier press conference in Taiwan, that the Chinese government would not control who was allowed to visit the island.
“They may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places. But they won’t isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there,” Pelosi said. She later added, “We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan. They don’t make our travel schedule. The Chinese government does not do this.
Taiwan’s 23 million people have long faced the prospect of invasion, but under President Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful leader in a generation, that threat has become more serious.
Ahead of a major ruling party rally this fall, where Xi is expected to be given a historic third term, analysts say China’s leaders are eager to project power.
“China’s announced military exercises represent a marked escalation from the current base of Chinese military activities around Taiwan and the last Taiwan Strait crisis in 1995-96,” said Amanda Hsiao, senior China analyst. at the International Crisis Group. “Beijing Signals It Rejects Taiwan’s Sovereignty.”
However, analysts told AFP that China is not now trying to escalate the situation beyond its control.
The last thing Xi wants is unintended conflict, according to Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.