August 12, 2022


China has described its military exercises around Taiwan as evidence of its ability to corner the self-governing island in the event of war, as it entered operations in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the second day.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said at least 68 Chinese warplanes and 13 warships carried out exercises off the Taiwan coast on Friday. During the operation, some planes and ships sent by the Chinese military crossed the midline in the Taiwan Strait, the ministry said, a theoretical boundary that Taipei says demarcates the boundaries of areas of effective control.

The flurry of military overflights by Beijing on Friday — setting a record for such activity since the Taiwan military began disclosing data in September 2020 — came after China surrounded Taiwan with missile and ballistic missile fire the day before. Chinese military experts and state media described the four-day exercises as unprecedented. In Cambodia for a regional meeting, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said it was a “major escalation”.

Chinese forces carried out live fire in six designated areas facing Taiwan’s military bases and its largest trading ports, allowing the Chinese army, the People’s Liberation Army, to form a siege around the island for the first time, a breakthrough that Beijing state media reported. . The areas overlap what Taiwan claims to be its territorial waters.

Major-General Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, told Chinese state radio that the People’s Liberation Army fired missiles over the main island of Taiwan on Thursday, the first time the military had done so. General Meng did not specify how many were launched, but said they passed over an area with Taiwan stations for Patriot anti-missile batteries, which are monitored by the US Navy. Taiwan said Beijing fired 11 ballistic missiles near the island.

General Meng said the exercises simulated a real war, as China demonstrated the accuracy and movement of weapons that could now cover the entire island.

“We can say that we have the ability to turn the exercises into a real war at any time,” he said.

In a Beijing restaurant, a screen appears showing news footage of Chinese military exercises near Taiwan.


picture:

Tingshu Wang / Reuters

It was also the first occasion that Chinese aircraft carriers participated in a group exercise, General Meng said. Two of the Chinese carriers, the Liaoning and Shandong, were training together earlier this week ahead of Ms Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan, which coincided with the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army. The location of the carriers could not be determined.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its escort ships would remain in the area to monitor the situation. The White House also summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang.

“We have made clear to the ambassador that Beijing’s actions are of concern to Taiwan and to us and our partners around the world,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a statement on Friday.

On Thursday afternoon, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said it had successfully completed all live-fire operations in the waters off eastern Taiwan, lifting traffic controls in the area. By late Friday, she said the second day of rehearsals had gone ahead as planned. State radio broadcast footage showing flying fighters and sailing warships, but did not include images of live fire.

More than 200 ships sailing regularly in the waters around Taiwan have moved from the six regions. Lloyd’s List Intelligence data showed that only a handful of ships were still sailing in those areas on Friday, down from an average of 240 per day over the past week. The Taiwan Strait is a major shipping route, with about half of the global container fleet and 90% of the world’s largest ships by tonne transiting the waterway last year.

Data shows that Kaohsiung and Keelung, Taiwan’s two largest ports, remain open for business, but vessel arrivals have fallen by a quarter over the past two days.

Taiwan will not escalate the conflict, but we will firmly defend our sovereignty, security and democracy.


– Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

While the general mood in Taiwan remained calm after the exercises ended Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called on Beijing to act with prudence and restraint.

“Taiwan will not escalate the conflict, but we will resolutely defend our sovereignty, security and democracy,” she said in a video released Thursday.

On Friday, a prominent figure in Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor industry announced a donation equivalent to $100 million to bolster the island’s civil defense and combat China’s psychological warfare.

Robert Cao, founder of United Microelectronics corp.

, or the UMC, said there are people in Taiwan who would not be put at risk by tempting Beijing’s economic power or intimidating them with its military might. He urged more people to defend the island.

UMC, a Taiwanese chip maker that also operates two factories in China, referred a request for comment to Mr. Cao himself, without elaborating. Mr. Cao remains the Honorary Chairman of UMC after his retirement and is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the United States will not allow China to isolate Taiwan by barring US officials from traveling there. I spoke in Tokyo on the last leg of an Asia trip that angered China, which has begun live-fire military exercises across Taiwan. Photo: Richard A. Brooks/AFP/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, China said it had suspended climate change talks with the United States and canceled some military exchanges in response to Ms Pelosi’s visit. Countermeasures include canceling calls between two military leaders and two security forces, and halting cooperation in fighting crime. It also announced sanctions against Ms. Pelosi and her immediate family.

Ms Pelosi, who visited Japan on the last leg of her Asian tour, said Beijing might see her visit as an opportunity to conduct the exercises, and said the United States would continue to engage with Taiwan despite criticism from China.

“We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan,” she said at a press conference in Tokyo on Friday.

In her visit to Taiwan, Ms. Pelosi defied repeated warnings from Beijing. The US Air Force plane carrying its delegation from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Taipei took a three-hour detour, flying over Indonesia and the Philippines before landing in Taipei.

A Chinese military expert, General Ming, told China’s state radio that the roundabout was a response to the deterrent effect caused by China’s spread around Taiwan.

He said the People’s Liberation Army followed Ms. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan and kept her under surveillance during the trip. He did not say whether Chinese warplanes had cast shadows on its plane.

write to Wenxin Fan at [email protected] and Joyo Wang at [email protected]

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