December 7, 2022

On Saturday, China continued to express its anger over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, on the third consecutive day of military exercises that got closer to the island and raised concerns about a possible conflict.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that several batches of Chinese military aircraft and warships have been spotted around the Taiwan Strait, some of which have crossed the unofficial median line that separates the island from the Chinese mainland. The ministry said they apparently participated in an exercise simulating an attack on the main island of Taiwan.

Indeed, China’s show of force, which is expected to continue through Sunday, has threatened territories that Taiwan considers its territory more directly than any previous exercises.

China fired at least 11 missiles into waters in northern, southern and eastern Taiwan, including at least one that flew over the island, although Taiwan said it was at a high altitude and posed no threat. On Friday, it also deployed combat aircraft, bombers, destroyers, drones and escort ships in the waters near the island. Several of the areas the Chinese military has designated for exercises this week are closer to the island than the areas announced during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in the mid-1990s, which also included China firing missiles around Taiwan.

Since the exercises began Thursday, at least 49 Chinese military aircraft have crossed the center line, according to Taiwanese officials.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday that China “unilaterally created a crisis” by overreacting to Ms Pelosi’s visit.

“The Taiwan people have the right to make friends with the rest of the world, and China has no right to interfere with the rest of the world in befriending Taiwan,” the statement said.

The military exercises are the most visible component of China’s response to Ms Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which she said was aimed at showing support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Before her arrival on Tuesday, China repeatedly warned that the gesture of Ms Pelosi – the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years – would lead to “serious consequences”. China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has promised eventual reunification, through force if necessary.

China also said on Friday it would cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts said could raise the odds of a misunderstanding turning into a full-blown crisis.

At the same time, the United States is looking to strengthen its relations with other Asian countries, as a counterweight to China’s regional and global influence. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken on Saturday with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila. In a public exchange, Mr. Marcus told Mr. Blinken he did not believe Pelosi’s visit had “escalated” tensions in the region, which he said were already high – an apparent refutation of China’s claims that the United States was responsible for the current frictions.

Fears that China would seek to physically prevent Pelosi’s visit have not materialized. But US officials remain concerned that the exercises, which began less than 24 hours after it left Taiwan, could escalate, intentionally or accidentally, into a more direct conflict.

Chinese officials, who have encouraged ostentation and at times malign nationalism at home, may feel pressure to show they are making a strong response. Some social media users in China have expressed disappointment or embarrassment that the government did not go so far as to prevent Ms Pelosi’s visit; Some explained that they were expecting military action.

Even if the exercises do not directly escalate into an all-out crisis, they may indicate a new pattern of aggression and incursions by the Chinese military. Global Times, the state-run tabloid newspaper, He said in an editorial Last Friday, the work to promote reunification with Taiwan “entered a new phase.”

The United States tried to avoid provoking China further. She said she remained committed to the status quo in Taiwan, acknowledging China’s stated claim to the island without acknowledging it. The Pentagon ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “remain in position” in the region, while maintaining a distance from the Taiwan Strait.

But China has made it clear that it considers any criticism of its practices an insult. It has summoned several ambassadors after their countries Expressed concern about exercises. After some Chinese missiles landed Thursday in waters Japan claims belong to, the Japanese prime minister called for an “immediate halt,” a representative of the Chinese Embassy in Japan said. Tell Japan must not “slide into the abyss” of geopolitical confrontation.

Amy Chang ShenAnd the John Liu And the Edward Wong Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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