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Pelosi visit leads to Chinese war games over Taiwan

Missiles have been fired over the Taiwanese capital Taipei as China vents its anger over the visit to the island of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week.

August 6, 2022
6 August 2022

Chinese aircraft and warships practised on Saturday for an attack on Taiwan, island officials said, in retaliation for a visit there by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi’s brief unannounced visit during the week to the self-ruled island claimed by China infuriated Beijing and has prompted unprecedented military drills that have included ballistic missiles fired over the capital, Taipei.

The Chinese exercises are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday.

China’s military exercises at the edge of Taiwan waters have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades following a visit there by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

On Saturday morning, Taiwan’s defence ministry said multiple Chinese ships and planes conducted missions in the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, movements that Taiwan’s military believes were part of a simulation attack on the main Taiwan island.

Taiwan’s army broadcast a warning and deployed air reconnaissance patrol forces and ships to monitor while putting shore-based missiles on stand-by.

Taiwan’s defence ministry also said it fired flares late on Friday to warn away seven drones flying over its Kinmen islands and unidentified aircraft flying over its Matsu islands. Both island groups lie close to mainland China’s southeastern coast.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday, the highest-level visit to the island by a US official in decades.

China Taiwan Military Exercises China's military has fired several missiles into waters off Taiwan as part of military exercises.
China’s military has fired several missiles into waters off Taiwan as part of military exercises.

Shortly after her delegation left Japan on Friday, the final stop of a week-long Asia tour, China announced that it was halting dialogue with the United States in a number of areas including between theatre-level military commanders and on climate change.

China’s foreign ministry said it was also suspending exchanges on countering cross-border crime and drug trafficking. The United States called the response “irresponsible”.

On Friday, the Eastern Theater Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army said it conducted air and sea drills to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan to test is forces’ “joint combat capabilities”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had repeatedly made clear to Beijing it did not seek a crisis over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

Taiwan Asia Pelosi Nancy Pelosi has left Taiwan, telling President Tsai Ing-wen the US "will not abandon" the island.
A visit to Taiwan by US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seen here with President Tsai Ing-wen, has caused controversy with China.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of regional meetings in Cambodia.

“Now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level.”

Blinken emphasised that the United States would not take action to provoke a crisis but it would support allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.

“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi have exchanged words over the situation in Taiwan. (Stefani Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP)

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Chinese officials had not responded to calls made by senior Pentagon officials this week but that was seen as a show of displeasure over Pelosi’s trip rather than the severing of the channel between the countries.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told a media briefing on Friday: “I heard that US Secretary of State Blinken held his news conference and spread some misinformation and was not speaking truthfully.”

“We wish to issue a warning to the United States: Do not act rashly, do not create a greater crisis,” Wang said.

Speaking in Japan after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Pelosi said her Asia trip was “not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region”.

Two soldiers fold Taiwan’s national flag during the daily ceremony on the Liberty Square of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying, File)

Japan’s defence ministry reported that as many as four missiles flew over Taiwan’s capital, which is unprecedented. It also said that five of nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone, also a first, prompting a diplomatic protest.

Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communists took power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists in a civil war, prompting their retreat to the island.

Beijing says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and that it reserves the right to bring the island under Chinese control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects China’s claims saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.

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