May 30, 2023

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Furious against Pelosi, Beijing begins its grand maneuvers around Taiwan

Her trip to the Chinese-claimed territory lasted less than 24 hours, with Pelosi drawing the ire of Beijing as she became the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taipei in 25 years.

He hammered that the US would not abandon the island, which is ruled by a democratic regime and lives under the constant threat of occupation by the Chinese military.

In response, Beijing on Thursday afternoon (04:00 GMT) launched wide-ranging military maneuvers in six areas surrounding Taiwan, along busy trade routes.

“Exercises are starting” and will continue until Sunday afternoon (0400 GMT), Chinese state television CCTV said in a social media post.

“During this period, concerned ships and aircraft shall not enter the concerned waters and airspace”.

On the Chinese island of Pingtan, which is close to the areas where the maneuvers are taking place, AFP reporters noted that military helicopters flew in the sky towards the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s military has indicated that it is “preparing for war rather than seeking war”.

According to the Global Times newspaper, which cited military analysts, the drills are on an “unprecedented” scale as the missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time.

“This is the first time the Chinese military has fired live ammunition and long-range artillery strikes in the Taiwan Strait,” the newspaper, known for its nationalist tone, said.

The drills will take place in various areas around Taiwan — sometimes as far as 20 kilometers off Taiwan’s coast — and last until noon on Sunday.

“If Taiwanese forces voluntarily communicate (with the Chinese military) and accidentally open fire, (the Chinese military) will retaliate vigorously, and the Taiwanese side will bear all the consequences.” , AFP told an anonymous source. Military source in Chinese army.

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Officials on the island have condemned the plan, saying it threatens East Asian security.

“Some of China’s maneuvering areas (…) have encroached on Taiwan’s territorial waters,” Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said, condemning an irrational act aimed at challenging the “international order.”

The ministry said Taiwan’s military fired the drone overnight from Wednesday to Thursday to scare off the drone it was flying over Kinmen Island, 10 km from mainland China’s Xiamen city. He did not specify what kind of drone it was or where it came from.

For Beijing, these drills — which include others, more limited, that have begun in recent days — are a “necessary and legitimate step” after Pelosi’s visit.

“The US is the provocateur, China is the victim. China is on the defensive,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

The drills are aimed at simulating a “siege” of the island and include “attacking targets at sea, attacking targets on land and controlling airspace,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

If the hypothesis of an invasion of Taiwan, home to 23 million people, is unlikely, it has increased since the election of current President Tsai Ing-wen in 2016.

Ms Tsai, from an independent party, refuses to recognize that the island and the mainland are part of “one China”, unlike the previous government.

Visits by foreign officials and members of parliament have increased in recent years, drawing Beijing’s ire.

In response, President Xi Jinping’s China, which prefers not to be embroiled in questions of sovereignty, has sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and ratchet up military pressure on the island.

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Conclusion: The Taiwan Strait is becoming the scene of dangerous tensions between US, Taiwanese and Chinese officials, forcing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to express indecision as the convention approaches.

The conference, organized in the fall, avoided disaster and saw Xi Jinping re-elected as the organization’s leader for a third term.

However, experts told AFP that China does not want the current situation to deteriorate.

Titus Chen, a political science professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, said before the CCP congress that “an accidental war triggered by an incident” is the last thing Xi Jinping wants.

However, the drills “mark a marked escalation from the norm of Chinese military operations around Taiwan and the last crisis in the Taiwan Strait in 1995-1996,” notes Amanda Hsiao, a China analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank.

And “by doing so, Beijing rejects any sovereignty of Taiwanese authorities on the island,” he underlines.