China conducts military exercises around Taiwan after an island politician visits the United States | International

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The Chinese army has carried out a series of "air and sea patrols, as well as naval and air exercises" around Taiwan on Saturday, the state agency Xinhua has detailed. As of 9:00 a.m. (3:30 a.m. in mainland Spain), the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has identified eight military ships and 42 Chinese planes in the vicinity of the island, 26 of which crossed the Taiwan Strait, the tacit border between Beijing and Taipei.

The Chinese maneuvers are a response to the visit, a week ago, to the United States of the Taiwanese vice president, William Lai. A trip that Beijing has described as an "irrational provocation". During his visit, Lai did not have any meetings with US officials or politicians. Instead, he did organize meetings with the Taiwanese community residing in the North American country. The politician returned to Taipei this Friday, after also visiting Paraguay, one of the 13 countries in the world that maintain official ties with the island and the only one in South America. There, he attended, on Tuesday, the inauguration of president-elect Santiago Peña (from the conservative Colorado Party).

For the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Lai's actions have brought Taiwan to the brink of war due to his "continuous provocations" and his alignment with Western anti-Chinese forces. For his part, the spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army, Colonel Shi Yi, explained in a statement that these maneuvers represent a "warning" to the island's separatist groups, as well as to external forces that they back them up. He has also commented that the objective of the exercises was "to test the real combat capacity of the troops." Operations have been carried out in the north and southwest of the island.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense has condemned these moves as an "irrational provocation." For the Taiwanese Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, China, whom he described as "a tyrannical neighbor", seeks to "intervene and influence" in the next presidential elections in Taiwan, which are held in January next year: "We are not going to to allow”.

Over the past year, China has intensified its military pressure on Taiwan, a self-governing island that Beijing considers part of its territory. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, considering it a "rogue province" since Kuomintang nationalists took refuge there in 1949 after losing the war against the communist army.

These are not the first maneuvers - nor are they the most relevant - that China has carried out around the island. A year ago, after the visit of the American politician Nancy Pelosi, then president of the US House of Representatives, Beijing began unprecedented military exercises, the largest in history, which raised tension in the area.

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On this occasion, and despite China's obvious anger, Taiwan's main digital headlines have not given much coverage to the maneuvers. The foreign minister linked the exercises to an "intimidating" speech from Beijing and framed them in China's strategy to intimidate the island, executing displays of force and spreading false news, according to what he told the Afp agency.

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