In a volley of statements from China’s Foreign Minister, Defence Department and Taiwan Affairs Bureau, Beijing accused Washington of being “dangerous and stupid” by attempting to thwart “an irreversible historical process” of unifying Taiwan with the mainland. The rhetoric was coupled with the mobilisation of the People’s Liberation Army and Chinese air force to conduct drills around the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defence said the military drills would breach its territorial waters, endanger the international order and amount to a blockade of the island. Japan said it had also raised its concerns directly with Beijing.
China warned airlines to avoid flying in areas around Taiwan as the exercises got underway. The drills were expected to last until Sunday.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong urged both the US and China to de-escalate tensions.
“We do have a situation where we see rhetoric increasing, and we see military hardware being deployed,” she told ABC radio. “I understand this is a very concerning situation for everyone. What we need to say to all parties is that the region wants peace and stability.”
China’s overseas citizens’ networks from Ghana, to Georgia to Thailand rallied to condemn Pelosi’s visit in a coordinated attack on US foreign policy that ended with Russia’s Kremlin declaring it was “absolutely in solidarity with China” and accusing Washington of “choosing the path of confrontation”.
The surge in Chinese interest in the visit caused one of the mainland’s largest social media networks, Weibo, to crash. Taiwanese government websites were forced offline by attacks from overseas hackers.
In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry summoned US ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest and reiterate that it would “not sit idly” by.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter it, resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and resolutely thwart external interference,” said Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian.
Pelosi is expected to meet with Mark Liu, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co [TSMC] on Wednesday afternoon before flying to Japan at 5pm.
TSMC is responsible for more than 50 per cent of the global semiconductor market – the key electronic chips behind billions of the world’s smart devices including phones, computers and military hardware.
In a series of economic sanctions imposed by Beijing, China’s General Administration of Customs blocked natural sand exports, restricting access to the commodity used widely in Taiwan’s construction industry. It has not announced any restrictions on silica sand or the silicon extracted from sand which is used to make semiconductors. Those could hamper the global semiconductor industry, for which China is also reliant on Taiwan.
The customs measures were followed by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing, which announced it would sanction four companies including energy and medical retailers and satellite technology businesses for their financial links to Taiwan’s pro-democracy foundations. It banned the owners from entering China and mainland organisations from conducting any transactions with the companies, including Xuande Energy, Lingwang Technology, Tianliang Medical, and Tianyan Satellite Technology after accusing them of having links with Taiwanese separatists groups.
On Tuesday, China banned 180 food imports from Taiwan, rattling global markets. The anxiety from China’s Shanghai and Hang Seng exchanges spread from Asia to the US on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1.2 per cent.
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