UPDATE ON THE SITUATION – After Nancy Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military launched fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles in what analysts consider a mock blockade and invasion of Taiwan.
China wraps up its largest-ever military maneuvers around Taiwan on Sunday, an angry reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, which sent relations between Beijing and Washington plummeting. low for years.
U.S. number three Nancy Pelosi sparked China’s fury with her visit Tuesday and Wednesday, the largest by an American lawmaker to Taiwan in 25 years. Beijing, which considers the island as one of its provinces, reacted by suspending a series of Sino-American bilateral discussions and cooperation, notably on climate change and defence.
China’s military has also launched the largest military exercises in its history, sending fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles into what analysts say is a mock blockade and invasion of Taiwan.
On Sunday, it conducted “joint practical exercises at sea and in the airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan, as planned”, said the Chinese army’s Eastern Command, which oversees the country’s eastern maritime space. and therefore Taiwan. These exercises were intended to “test joint firepower in the field and long-range air strike capabilities”, he added.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense confirmed that China had deployed “aircraft, ships and drones” around the strait, “to simulate attacks on the main island of Taiwan and on boats in our waters”.
These vast maneuvers were to end at midday, even if Beijing plans to conduct new “live fire” exercises until August 15 in the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean peninsula.
Taiwan’s transport ministry said that as of noon, six of the seven “temporary danger zones” that China had asked airlines to avoid had returned to normal, a sign that the drills were coming to an end. “The flights and navigations concerned can gradually resume,” he said. The seventh zone, in the waters east of Taiwan, will remain to be avoided until Monday at 10:00 a.m. (02:00 GMT), according to the same source. On the Chinese side, the Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for confirmation of the end of the maneuvers.
To prove how close it had come to the Taiwanese coast, the Chinese army on Saturday published a photo it said it took from one of its military ships, showing a Taiwanese navy building just a few hundred meters away. . This shot may be the closest to the Taiwanese coastline ever taken by mainland Chinese forces. The Chinese military has also released video of one of its fighter pilots showing the coastline and mountains of Taiwan from its cockpit in full flight. According to Chinese state television CCTV, missiles flew over Taiwan this week during exercises around the island – which would be a first.
On the Taiwanese side, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said on Sunday that China was “using military action in a barbaric way” to disrupt peace in the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from the island. “We call on the Chinese government not to brandish its military force, not to flex its muscles everywhere to endanger the peace of the region,” he told reporters. The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that the exercises threaten “the region and even the world”.
Separately, an anonymous editorial published by CCTV on Sunday hinted that further “regular” drills would be held on the eastern side of the median line, which bisects the strait. Drawn unilaterally by the United States during the Cold War, this line has never been recognized by Beijing.
The scale of the maneuvers and Beijing’s decision to withdraw from crucial bilateral climate and defense dialogues have triggered a shower of condemnation from the United States and its allies. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced Saturday in Manila the “total disproportion” of the Chinese reaction. China should not “hostage” discussions on issues such as climate change because it “does not punish the United States, but the whole world”, he added.