China launches unprecedented military maneuvers in decades with Taiwan after Pelosi’s trip | International

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The Chinese Army began its most important military maneuvers in decades around Taiwan on Thursday, live-fire exercises that will last until Sunday and that, according to the island’s Ministry of Defense, are equivalent to a “sea and air blockade” of ancient Formosan. The show of force by the People’s Liberation Army comes a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taipei. His stay on the island, which functions de facto as an independent state but which Beijing considers an inalienable part of its territory, lasted just 24 hours but was enough to outrage the Asian giant, which has warned the G-7 that it will respond “to any violation of its sovereignty”.

In response to this trip that, for China, encourages what it considers secessionist whims of the Taiwanese Executive, Beijing began live fire drills in the waters around Taiwan, around 12:00 this Thursday (6:00 a.m. in peninsular time). Spanish). The Chinese military has even launched two ballistic missiles near Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, according to an internal report from the island, confirmed by a Taiwanese security source to Reuters. These military exercises include the closure of maritime and air space in six zones around the island. One of them is located just 20 kilometers from the coast of Kaohsiung, the main city in southern Taiwan.

From the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan they have condemned these drills, which they have described as “irresponsible” and “illegitimate” for being carried out on the busiest international waterways and air routes in the region. The G-7 and the European Union have also condemned the maneuvers in a joint statement and pointed out that “there is no justification for using a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity.” The head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, has reproduced that same quote in a tweet in which the “concern” of the EU and the G-7 is expressed.

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have warned, for their part, that the situation “could destabilize the region and eventually cause (…) open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between great powers” .

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The spokesman for the Chinese Mission to the European Union, Zhang Ming, replied this Thursday to the statement shared on Wednesday by the Foreign Ministers of the G-7 and the Union, warning that it will respond to any violation of its sovereignty, at the same time who has called on the United States to be held accountable for its actions.

“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory and meddling in its affairs is a violation of China’s sovereignty,” Ming said in a statement shared by his office, where he stressed “any action that violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will be returned by the Chinese people.”

Taiwan is not a special administrative region of China, as is the case with Hong Kong and Macao, but functions as a State de facto. The Taiwanese elect their government democratically, they have their own Constitution and an army with some 300,000 troops. For China, the island is just a “rogue” province whose government is “illegitimate.” The diplomatic relations of the Asian giant with the rest of the countries are based on the principle of a single China; that is, there is only one China, and this includes Taiwan.

the chinese daily Global Times, owned by the Communist Party and with a nationalist editorial line, has acknowledged, citing military analysts, that the exercises are “unprecedented” and that missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time. The Taiwan Affairs Office – an administrative agency that responds to the Chinese State Council – has expressed this Thursday that the differences between the mainland and the island are “internal affairs of China”, and have defended that the maneuvers are “a punishment to the pro-independence and external forces”. Beijing defends these exercises, as well as other maneuvers carried out in recent days around Taiwan, as “just and necessary” and blames the United States and its allies for the escalation. “In the current fight over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the United States is the provocateur and China is the victim,” according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Taiwan’s reaction

Taipei says it is closely monitoring the exercises and that its forces are preparing for conflict, but not looking for it. “The Ministry of National Defense maintains that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, with the attitude of not escalating the conflict or causing disputes,” the Taiwanese government said in a statement. For his part, Yu Chien-chang, a senior official in the legal department of the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, considers that the exercises “equivalent to an air and sea blockade” because “they overlap with our territorial waters and our airspace, and seriously violate our sovereignty.”

The Taiwanese Ministry of Transportation has assured that the ships arriving in or leaving Taiwan will have to avoid the areas where the Chinese Army is carrying out its practices, a situation that, if prolonged over time, could have an impact on the communications of the island. According to local media, the Chinese drills have affected 18 international air routes on the island and more than 900 flights have been forced to change their route.

In the face of the recent escalation, Taipei says its military is closely monitoring the situation in the strait and on the outlying islands, and all its troops are conducting daily training. The military authorities warn that the Army will continue to reinforce its alert level and will react to the “enemy situation” in an appropriate manner. They add that “it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, with the attitude of not escalating the conflict or causing disputes.”

The Defense portfolio has also reported that, on Wednesday, Taiwan registered the entry of 27 Chinese military aircraft into its self-defined Air Defense Identification Zone, for which its Army activated a combat air patrol, issued radio warnings and deployed missile defense systems to monitor Chinese aircraft.

In addition, a few hours after Pelosi flew to South Korea (the fourth stop on her Asia-Pacific tour), Taiwanese forces had to fire flares at 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. local time (six hours less in Spanish peninsular time). ) to chase away a Chinese military drone that was flying over the Kinmen Islands (also known as Quemoy).

The small archipelago, administered by Taiwan, is located just 10 kilometers from the southern Chinese city of Xiamen. These islands have been targeted for bombing as escalating tensions between Beijing and Taipei have reached high levels in recent decades. On Tuesday, coinciding with the arrival of the US congressional delegation, China opened the air and sea space of the entire province of Fujian (where Xiamen is located) exclusively for military use and mobilized its forces at the military bases located in the area.

A Chinese military helicopter flies over Pingtan Island, near Taiwan, on Thursday. HECTOR RETAMAL (AFP)

cyber attack

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has also reported that its website suffered a cyberattack from abroad on Wednesday night and temporarily lost internet connection. The same thing happened to various government pages, including the Office of the President, as Pelosi flew to Taipei on Tuesday.

Pelosi, number three in the US administration, is the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in the 25 years since Newt Gingrich’s 1997 trip. At that time, China was in the process of integrating Hong Kong —returned that same year to Beijing by the United Kingdom—, so she chose to keep a low profile. In addition, Gingrich was a Republican who was presiding over the House of Representatives with a Democratic government, that of Bill Clinton, so China interpreted his visit as an internal struggle between the two parties. Pelosi, by contrast, is a Democrat, as is the current president, Joe Biden.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, second in the line of presidential succession, emphasized to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen that her presence in Taipei was intended to make it clear that her country “will not abandon Taiwan.” For Beijing, having top US officials visit the island sends a message of support for the Taiwanese independence campaign.

Since they reestablished their bilateral relations in 1979, the ties of the two largest economies on the planet are based on the principle of One China, which implies that there is only one China, and this includes Taiwan, where the Chinese took refuge in 1949. nationalist troops defeated by the communist army in the civil war. However, for Washington the expression means that it recognizes the government in Beijing as a representative of China and the status of Taiwan is not determined. With Taipei, he maintains a “strategic ambiguity”: he sells weapons for self-defense and Biden himself has declared himself willing on a couple of occasions to provide military assistance in the event of an attack.

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