China’s Maritime Safety Administration on Saturday announced five no-go areas in the Yellow Sea where the exercises will take place from August 5 to 15, as well as four additional areas in the Bohai Sea where China’s unspecified month-long military operations will take place starting in August. 8.
Although China is officially pursuing what it calls “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan – which has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party – it is also constantly threatens to take the island by force if the government in Taipei declared its formal independence.
Diplomatic repercussions From Pelosi’s visit escalated sharply on Friday, when Beijing imposed sanctions on her and her immediate family, canceled military dialogues, suspended climate talks and other bilateral cooperation on issues including cross-border crime.
White House summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang on “irresponsible” military operations, including missile launches in the waters around Taiwan. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken described the exercises as an “extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response”.
But China has shown no sign of slowing the pace of military exercises. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said Sunday that it will continue joint air and naval exercises in areas around Taiwan as planned, focusing on long-range strikes against targets in the sky.
After a record number of Chinese warplanes flew close to Taiwan’s airspace on Friday, 14 planes crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday with 14 Chinese warships operating nearby. Three years ago, crossing the unofficial border dividing the waterway was unheard of.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry described China’s Saturday morning exercises as “a simulation of an attack on the main island of Taiwan.”
Taiwan has also reported drones and unidentified objects flying over Kinmen and Matsu, the two islands under Taiwan rule and closest to the coast of China’s Fujian Province. The Kinmen Defense Command on Saturday fired warning flares at three drones that flew over its restricted waters.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University of the People’s Liberation Army, told China Central Television in an interview published on Sunday that the exercises aimed to “totally smash the so-called mid-line” and demonstrate China’s ability to prevent foreign interference in the conflict through blockade and control. On the Bashi Channel, an important waterway between the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
Military analysts said the Chinese live-fire exercises that began on Thursday and were conducted on all sides of Taiwan simulated a potential blockade of the island, but the Taiwan government said disruption to shipping routes and flights is limited so far.
Pelosi ended a congressional delegation’s Asian tour on Friday with a pledge that China would not succeed in isolating Taiwan.
For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has strived for universality pressure campaign To diplomatically isolate Taiwan’s democratically elected government by seizing its diplomatic partners and vigorously oppose exchanges between Taipei and foreign officials.
China accuses the United States of hollowing out its “one China” policy – which neither challenges nor endorses Beijing’s claims on the island – with steps to bolster its informal relationship with Taiwan, including the first visit of a House speaker in 25 years. The White House insists the policy has not changed.
Despite the unprecedented military pressure, the Taiwanese people have remained largely calm in the face of growing Chinese threats. “We are calm and will not rush. We are rational and will not act on provocation,” President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday.
Annual workouts by the Taiwanese military conducted a week before Pelosi’s visit despite increasingly angry warnings from Beijing. As the exercises began, local media reported that tourists visiting Xiaoliuqiu, a small island off the southwest coast of Taiwan’s main island, flocked to the beach to see if they could catch a glimpse of the missiles falling in the nearby waters.
The Taiwan Stock Exchange recovered from a brief mid-week decline by Friday.
Bi Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.
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