CHINA’S military exercises have invaded Taiwan’s territory by blocking its sea and air space the country’s defence ministry has said.
The move comes after China vowed to surround the island as part of “targeted military operations” in response to the visit of Nancy Pelosi the highest level US figure to travel to the island for 25 years.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said China’s military drills in its sea and airspace were “endangering international shipping lanes, challenging the international order, undermining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and endangering the area”.
Pelosi had previously described the self-ruled island as “one of the freest societies in the world”.
The US politician who arrived in Taiwan defying China’s warnings met with the country’s President Tsai Ing-wen- an unannounced visit that has infuriated China.
The controversial visit prompted China to scramble two Chinese jets to Taiwan’s airspace just minutes before her arrival, local publication SETN reported.
Addressing the parliament Pelosi said: “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan.
“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that’s the message we are bringing here today.”
She added that new US legislation aimed at strengthening the American chip industry to compete with China “offers greater opportunity for U.S.-Taiwan economic cooperation.”
A long-time China critic, especially on human rights, Pelosi is set to meet with a former Tiananmen activist, a Hong Kong bookseller who had been detained by China and a Taiwanese activist recently released by China.
Her visit has not been well-received by China which summoned the US ambassador, accusing Pelosi of “playing with fire” and saying the US “must pay the price for its mistake”.
The country’s Foreign Ministry said: “The United States, for its part, has been attempting to use Taiwan to contain China.
“It constantly distorts, obscures and hollows out the ‘One China’ principle, steps up its official exchanges with Taiwan and emboldens ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist activities.
“These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it.”
The statement also called Taiwan an “inalienable part of China’s territory,” as reported by Channel News Asia.
And now in a chilling response to Pelosi’s visit, there has been military activity in surrounding waters, while China has also halted several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
State-affiliated media in China yesterday quoted the country’s Ministry of National Defence as saying the People’s Liberation Army will be countering Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in a bid to “defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The operations would include live fire drills and “war games” around the coast of the island, which China claims is a breakaway province.
On Tuesday, China announced a series of life-fire exercises surrounding Taiwan between Thursday and Sunday.
Commercial ships and flights have been warned to avoid these areas during these times.
China has vowed to “fight to the death” over Taiwan, amid the deployment of warships, tanks and fighter planes to its southeast coast just 100 miles from the island.
Speaking after she touched down, Pelosi denied that her visit “contradicts” the longstanding US policy on Taiwan.
“Our delegation’s visit to Taiwan honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant Democracy,” she said. “Our discussions with Taiwan leadership reaffirm our support for our partner & promote our shared interests, including advancing a free & open Indo-Pacific region.”
In response, the US Navy deployed four warships east of Taiwan, while Chinese vessels and planes moved close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Surreal footage shows the bizarre moment a column of Chinese tanks make their way along a packed tourist beach on the opposite coast from Taiwan.
The ramped-up rhetoric has sparked fears of bigger warplane incursions by China into Taiwan’s territory.
Last October, a record 56 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, coinciding with nearby US-led military exercises.
China could potentially keep up this level of aerial war games for days if not weeks, stretching Taiwan’s smaller airforce as it seeks to drive away planes.
Beijing will have to respond militarily “in a way that’s a clear escalation from previous shows of force,” Amanda Hsiao from Taiwan-based Crisis Group told MSN.
Rumours are also flying of a possible missile test close to Taiwan as an act of provocation.
In the most recent military drill in the South China Sea in August 2020, the People’s Liberation Army launched “carrier-killer” ballistic missiles in apparent response to US naval exercises.
China could also impose economic pain on Taiwan, as the island nation’s largest trading partner.
On Monday, Taipei had a glimpse of this after Beijing banned food imports from more than 100 Taiwanese suppliers.
China has also hit various Taiwanese leaders with sanctions, including bans on travelling to the mainland.
If China disrupts shipping in the Taiwan Strait, a key global trade route, this could harm its own economy.
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