“These communists like to shout, but they are not going to do anything”: how the Taiwanese live the military siege of China
So far, rising tensions between China and Taiwan, in the wake of US politician Nancy Pelosi’s brief but controversial visit to Taipei, are playing out exactly as predicted.
First, China declared six exclusion zones around Taiwan, an autonomous island it considers a breakaway province.
Then, within two hours of those zones coming into effect, Beijing fired at least two ballistic missiles Dong Feng across the strait to areas off Taiwan’s northern coast.
This follows closely the pattern of what China did in 1996the last time the Asian giant tried to punish Taiwan for seeking international recognition.
The purpose of the tests It is clearly bullying.
But what is happening is also causing a massive disruption to shipping industries and Taiwan airlines.
The waters around Taiwan are some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
And all those ships have been seen now forced to change course.
On the north coast of Taiwan, in the fishing port of Bi Sha Yu, the fishermen sitting on the promenade mending their nets and growled loudly: “It is always us, the little ones, who suffer when politicians fight.”
“But what can we do, it’s too dangerous to go out now“said the captain of one of the boats.
Another mooring his boat after returning to port explained that they had left that morning, “but the coastguard radioed us and told us all that we return to port immediately“, said.
But he claimed that I wasn’t worried.
“We don’t know where the exclusion zones are, so we have to do what the coast guard tells us.”
Standing on the dock, his wife was much less optimistic: “Every day that passes we lose money. We can’t fish, but we still have to pay the crew’s wages!”
Most of the people the BBC spoke to they do not believe that China is about to attack Taiwan.
“They’re a bunch of mobsters,” said a man fishing off the pier.
“Those communists talk a lot, but they won’t do anything. We have been living with their threats for 70 years.”
However, the truth is that this day was only the first of the Chinese maneuvers, which leaves a lot of time for other events.
The Chinese ships could invade the territorial waters of Taiwan.
The most intense speculation revolves around the possibility that China is preparing to fire a missile just above the island.
The reason is that one of China’s declared exclusion zones is off the east coast of Taiwan in the Pacific Ocean.
A missile fired from China and landing there would have to cross Taiwan.
That missile would be a major violation of Taiwanese airspace.
The only country that has done something similar is North Korea, which in August 2017 fired a long-range missile on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Now the question is: Will Beijing follow Pyongyang’s playbook?
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