March 2, 2024

TAIPEI, Taiwan — China’s military announced new military drills Monday in the seas and airspace around Taiwan, a day after it planned to end its largest exercises in protest of a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. in Taipei.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it will hold joint exercises focusing on anti-submarine warfare and anti-sea attack operations, confirming fears by some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing will continue to put pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week angered China, which claims the self-ruled island as its own and responded by test-firing ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as abandoning some lines of dialogue with Washington.

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

Shortly before the latest drills were announced, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, telling him he was moved by his determination to visit despite China’s military pressure.

“Prime Minister Gonsalves expressed in recent days that Chinese military exercises would 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 had 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.

In addition to launching 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the previous four days of exercises, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones made extensive maneuvers around the island.

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

Meanwhile, China’s defense ministry maintained its diplomatic pressure on the United States, defending its abandonment of military talks in protest of Pelosi’s visit.

“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is caused and created entirely by the US side on its own initiative, and the US side must bear full responsibility and serious consequences for it,” Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in an online post. .

“The essence cannot be broken, and communication requires honesty,” Wu said.

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

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

China’s severance of some of its few communications links with the US military raises the risk of an accidental escalation in Taiwan at a critical time, according to security analysts and diplomats.

A US official noted that Chinese officials did not return calls from senior Pentagon officials amid tensions last week, but that they did not see it as a formal severance of ties with senior officials such as US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

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

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