China announces new military exercises around Taiwan

A Chinese military plane flies over Pingtan Island, one of the closest points to Taiwan in mainland China, on Aug. 5, 2022.

Hector Retamal | AFP | Getty Images

China’s military on Monday announced new military drills in the seas and airspace around Taiwan – a day after the scheduled end of its largest-ever drills to protest the Chinese President’s visit to Taipei last week. the United States House, Nancy Pelosi.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and maritime assault operations – confirming fears by some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to keep pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week infuriated China, which considers the self-governing island its own and responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as the abandonment of certain lines of dialogue with Washington.

The duration and precise location of the latest exercises are not yet known, but Taiwan has already eased flight restrictions near the six previous Chinese exercise areas surrounding the island.

Shortly before the latest exercises were announced, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, telling him she was moved by his determination to surrender despite the Chinese military pressure.

“Prime Minister Gonsalves has said in recent days that Chinese military exercises will not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan. These statements have touched us deeply,” Tsai said at a welcoming ceremony for Gonsalves. in Taipei.

It was unclear whether Tsai invited Gonsalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. “We do not disclose internal planning or communications between governments,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said when asked by Reuters.

Beyond firing 11 short-range ballistic missiles in the first four days of drills, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones have extensively maneuvered around the island.

Shortly before the drills ended on Sunday, about 10 warships from China and Taiwan maneuvered closely around the unofficial centerline of the Taiwan Strait, according to a person familiar with the situation and involved in the planning. Security.

Military talks suspended

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Chinese military ships, planes and drones had simulated attacks on the island and its navy. He said he had sent planes and ships to respond “appropriately”.

China’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, has maintained diplomatic pressure on the United States, defending its suspension of military-to-military talks in protest at Pelosi’s visit.

“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is entirely provoked and created by the US side on its own initiative, and the US side should bear full responsibility and serious consequences,” the spokesperson for the Ministry of Security said. Defense, Wu Qian, in an online message.

“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.

China on Friday called off formal talks involving theater-level commands, defense policy coordination and military maritime consultations as Pelosi left the region.

Pentagon, State Department and White House officials condemned the move, describing it as an irresponsible overreaction.

China’s severing of some of its few communication links with the US military increases the risk of an accidental escalation on Taiwan at a critical time, security analysts and diplomats say.

A US official noted that Chinese officials did not respond to calls from senior Pentagon officials amid tensions last week, but they did not see this as a formal severance of ties with figures such as the secretary. American at the Lloyd Austin Defense.

Asked directly about this information, Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu said: “China’s relevant countermeasures are a necessary warning of the provocations by the United States and Taiwan, and a legitimate defense of the sovereignty and national security”.

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