China announces that military exercises in Taiwan will be extended
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China announced on Monday that its military will expand exercises in Taiwan as concerns grow about a potential conflict in the region.
The drills would include anti-submarine drills, which appear to point to US support for Taiwan should China invade the island, according to social media posts by the People’s Liberation Army.
China’s military has said the exercises involving missile strikes, warplanes and ship movements crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait that separates the regions were held because of the visit by the president of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan last week.
China has rejected calls to ease tensions and has given no immediate indication of when it would end the blockade.
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Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Sunday it had spotted 66 aircraft and 14 warships carrying out the exercises. The island responded by putting its military on alert and deploying ships, planes and other assets to watch for Chinese planes, ships and drones that are “simulating attacks on Taiwan Island and our ships at sea.”
And according to the island’s official Central News Agency, Taiwan’s military will respond to the Chinese drills by conducting live-fire artillery exercises in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday.
Taiwan’s exercises will feature snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles and attack helicopters.
China considers Taiwan as part of its own territory. Taiwan and China separated in the late 1940s after the Communists won a civil war on the mainland. The two sides agree that they are one country, but disagree when it comes to which government has the right to national leadership.
Still, China considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials to recognize its sovereignty. Beijing has threatened to annex the island by force if it believes such action is necessary.
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Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “stop any escalation of the regional security situation.”
The Group of Seven has called out China for its actions, prompting Beijing to cancel a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi .
In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has ended defense and climate talks with the United States and imposed sanctions against the speaker.
The Biden and Pelosi administrations have said the US remains committed to the one-China policy, recognizing Beijing as China’s government even as it maintains informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan.
But the US still criticized China’s exercises in the Taiwan Strait. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called them “fundamentally irresponsible” and said there was “no need or reason for this escalation.”
The top US ambassador to Taiwan, Bi-khim Hsiao, said in a recent interview that China had no reason to “be so furious” about Pelosi’s visit, noting that the island has welcomed to US lawmakers for decades.
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“We have been living under the threat of China for decades,” Hsiao said on Sunday. “And we can’t let their constant threats define our desire to make friends internationally. If you have a kid who’s being bullied at school, you don’t say you don’t go to school. You try to find a way to deal with stalker..”
And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a visit to Myanmar that the US was “seizing the opportunity to increase its military deployment in the region, which deserves close vigilance and a resolute boycott by all the sides”.
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“China’s firm stance” is aimed at “seriously safeguarding Taiwan Strait peace and regional stability,” Wang said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.