China continued its anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan on Saturday, with its third straight day of military exercises that have encroached closer to the island and raised concerns about a potential conflict.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday that several batches of Chinese military aircraft and warships had been detected around the Strait of Taiwan, some of which crossed the unofficial midline that divides the island from the Chinese mainland. The ministry said they appeared to be engaged in an exercise mimicking an attack on the main island of Taiwan.
Already, China’s show of force, which is expected to last until Sunday, has threatened a region that Taiwan considers its own more directly than in any previous exercise.
China has launched at least 11 missiles into the waters north, south and east of Taiwan, with at least one flying over the island, although Taiwan said it was at a higher altitude posing no threat. was. On Friday, it deployed fighter jets, bombers, destroyers, drones and escort ships to the waters near the island. Several areas designated by the Chinese military for this week’s exercises are closer to the island than areas declared during the Taiwan Straits crisis in the mid-1990s, which also involved China’s missiles around Taiwan.
According to Taiwanese officials, at least 49 Chinese military jets have crossed the midline since the exercise began on Thursday.
Understand Sino-Taiwan Tensions
What does China mean to Taiwan? China claims Taiwan, a self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has vowed to take it back by force if necessary. The island on which Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese forces retreated after the Communist Revolution of 1949 has never been part of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that China “unilaterally created a crisis” by overreacting to Ms Pelosi’s visit.
“The people of Taiwan have the right to be friends with the rest of the world, and China has no right to interfere with the rest of the world that befriends Taiwan,” the statement said.
The military exercise is the most visible element of the Chinese response to Ms Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which she said was aimed at showing support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Ahead of her arrival on Tuesday, China had repeatedly warned that the gesture by Ms Pelosi – the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years – would have “serious consequences”. China claims Taiwan as its territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has promised an eventual reunification through force if necessary.
China also said on Friday that it would cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts said could increase the potential for miscommunication in a full-blown crisis.
At the same time, the United States seeks to strengthen its relations with other Asian countries as a countermeasure to China’s regional and global influence. On Saturday, Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken met with the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in Manila. In a public exchange, Mr Marcos told Mr Blinken that he did not think Pelosi’s visit increased the “intensity” of tensions in the region, which he said was already high – a response to China’s claims. The categorical denial that the states were responsible for the current conflicts in the United Nations.
The fear that China would try to physically stop Ms Pelosi’s visit was unconscionable. But US officials are concerned that the exercise, which began less than 24 hours after he left Taiwan, could still escalate into a more direct conflict, either intentionally or accidentally.
Chinese officials, who have promoted swaggering and at times domestic nationalism, may feel pressured to show that they are reacting strongly. Some Chinese social media users have expressed dismay or embarrassment that the government did not move to halt Ms. Pelosi’s visit; Some made it clear that they were expecting military action.
Even though these exercises may not directly turn into a full-fledged crisis, they may indicate a new pattern of aggression and infiltration by the Chinese military. The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, said in an editorial On Friday, the work of promoting reunification with Taiwan had “entered a new phase.”
America has tried to avoid provoking China further. It has said it remains committed to the status quo in Taiwan, accepting China’s alleged claim to the island without recognizing it. The Pentagon ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “stay at the station” in the area, maintaining some distance from the Taiwan Strait.
But China has made it clear that it considers any criticism of its practice an insult. It has summoned many ambassadors after their countries. expressed concern about exercises. Japan’s prime minister called a representative of the Chinese embassy in Japan for an “immediate halt” after some Chinese missiles landed in waters that Japan claims on Thursday. Told Japan “do not fall into the abyss” of geopolitical conflict.
Amy Chang Chien, john liu And edward wong Contributed to reporting.