Chinese and Taiwanese warships stare at each other as exercises are due to end

  • Chinese and Taiwanese ships turn on the high seas “cat and mouse”
  • Four days of Chinese exercises must end at noon
  • China warns US not to create bigger crisis

TAIPEI, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Chinese and Taiwanese warships played “cat and mouse” on the high seas on Sunday, hours before the scheduled end of four days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises launched in response to a visit to Taiwan by the US President. .

Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island last week infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over the island’s capital for the first time and cutting links communication with the United States.

About 10 Chinese and Taiwanese warships sailed closely through the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer zone separating the two sides, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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As Chinese forces “pressed” on the line, as they did on Saturday, the Taiwanese side remained close to watch and, where possible, deny the Chinese the ability to cross.

“Both sides are showing restraint,” the person said, calling the high seas maneuvers a ‘cat and mouse’.

“One side tries to cross, and the other stands in the way and forces them into a more disadvantaged position and ends up going back to the other side.”

Taiwan said its land-based anti-ship missiles and Patriot surface-to-air missiles were on standby.

The Chinese exercises, centered on six sites around the island, began on Thursday and are expected to last until noon on Sunday. China’s military said on Saturday it was conducting joint sea and air drills north, southwest and east of Taiwan, with a focus on testing land strike and sea assault capabilities. .

The United States qualified the climbing exercises.

“These activities constitute a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible and increase the risk of miscalculation,” a White House spokesperson said.

“They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which the world has come to expect.”

‘BETTING PEACE’

China has cut off communication through various channels with the United States as part of its response to Pelosi’s visit, including between military theater commands and on climate change.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused China of taking “irresponsible” action and moving away from prioritizing peaceful resolution in favor of the use of force. Read more

Taiwan’s military said on Saturday that Chinese ships and planes participating in the drills were carrying out a mock attack on the island that China claims as its territory.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry later said its forces had sent jets to warn 20 Chinese planes, including 14 that had crossed the median line. It also detected 14 Chinese vessels operating around the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry released a photograph showing Taiwanese sailors closely watching a nearby Chinese vessel.

Taiwanese forces fired flares on Friday to warn drones flying over its Kinmen Islands and unidentified planes flying over its Matsu Islands. Both groups of islands are close to the Chinese coast.

“China’s military exercises have unilaterally changed the current situation in the region and seriously damaged peace in the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

“DO NOT ACT QUICKLY”

Pelosi, a longtime China critic and political ally of US President Joe Biden, arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday evening during the highest-level visit by a US official to the island in decades, despite Chinese warnings. She said her visit showed the United States’ unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwanese democracy.

“The world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” she said. She also stressed that her trip was “not aimed at changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region.” Read more

Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists seized power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists in a civil war, prompting their retreat to the island.

China says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects China’s claims that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.

Speaking during a visit to the Philippines, Blinken said the United States had heard the concerns of its allies over what he called dangerous and destabilizing actions by China, but that Washington was seeking to avoid making the situation worse.

He said China’s cessation of bilateral dialogue in eight key areas was a measure that would punish the world.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said at a press briefing on Friday that Blinken was spreading “disinformation”, adding, “We would like to issue a warning to the United States: do not act recklessly, don’t create a bigger crisis.”

China has not mentioned a suspension of military talks at the highest levels, such as with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley. Although such talks have been infrequent, officials said they were important in an emergency.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said five of the nine missiles fired at its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei, David Brunnstrom in Manila, Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Meg Shen in Hong Kong, Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Ryan Woo; Written by Tony Munroe and Greg Torode; Editing by Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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