September 25, 2022

BEIJING (AP) — China said Monday it is expanding threatening military exercises around Taiwan that have disrupted shipping and air traffic and raised substantial concerns about a potential conflict in a region critical to global trade.

The exercises would include anti-submarine drills, apparently aimed at supporting the US in Taiwan in the event of a possible Chinese invasion, according to social media posts by the eastern leadership of China’s ruling Communist Party’s military arm, the People’s Liberation Army.

The military said the drills, which include missile strikes, warplanes and ship movements crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait that separates the sides, were a response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. visiting the self-governing island last week.

China has ignored calls to ease tensions and there was no immediate indication when it would end what amounts to a blockade.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Sunday it had detected a total of 66 aircraft and 14 warships conducting naval and air exercises. The island responded by putting its military on alert and deploying ships, planes and other means to track Chinese aircraft, ships and drones that “simulate attacks on the island of Taiwan and our ships at sea.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported that Taiwan’s military will hold live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday in response to the Chinese drills.

The exercises will include snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles as well as attack helicopters, the report said, citing an unnamed source.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing sees visits by foreign officials to Taiwan as recognition of its sovereignty.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “stop any escalation of the regional security situation.” The Group of Seven industrialized nations also criticized China’s actions, prompting Beijing to cancel a meeting between Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi.

China suspended defense and climate talks with the US and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for her visit.

The Biden administration and Pelosi say the US remains committed to a “one China” policy that extends formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing while allowing strong informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

However, the US has criticized Beijing’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, with White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre calling them “fundamentally irresponsible”.

“There is no need and no reason for this escalation,” Jean-Pierre said.

In Washington, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador Bi-kim Hsiao said China had no reason to “be so furious” about Pelosi’s visit, which follows a long tradition of American lawmakers visiting Taiwan.

“Well, you know, we’ve been living under the threat from China for decades,” Hsiao told CBS News on Sunday. “If you have a child who is being bullied at school, you don’t say you don’t go to school. You try to find a way to deal with the bully.

“The risks are posed by Beijing,” Hsiao said.

On a visit to Myanmar, whose Chinese-backed military government has been accused of killing its opponents, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Washington was “taking the opportunity to step up its military deployment in the region, which it deserves great vigilance and a decisive boycott on all sides.”

“China’s firm stance” is aimed at “ensuring peace in the Taiwan Strait and regional stability,” Wang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong called for an easing of tensions. “Australia continues to call for restraint, Australia continues to urge de-escalation and this is not something Australia is asking for alone, and the whole region is concerned about the current situation, the whole region is asking for stability to be restored,” Wong said. journalists in Canberra.

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