China expands military drills near Taiwan after Pelosi visit

China announced Monday it will expand military drills around Taiwan – a day after the scheduled end of its largest-ever drills, held in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taipei last week.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it will conduct joint exercises focused on anti-submarine and naval attack operations – confirming fears by some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing will continue to put pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry, headed by Joseph Wu, condemned China’s decision to continue military exercises, saying the country was still “deliberately creating crises and continuing to provoke”.

Wu urged China to stop threat drills immediately and “pull back from the rim,” but also sounded a defiant tone.

“In the face of military intimidation caused by China, Taiwan will neither fear nor yield and will be more resolute in defending its sovereignty, national security and free and democratic way of life,” the ministry said in a statement.

China fired 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the four earlier days of exercises as its warships, warplanes and drones maneuvered around Taiwan.
China fired 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the four earlier days of exercises as its warships, warplanes and drones maneuvered around Taiwan.
REUTERS
A Chinese military plane flies during a training exercise by the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command Air Force Corps on Friday.
A Chinese military plane flies during a training exercise by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command Air Force Corps on Friday.
AP

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week infuriated China, which regards the self-governing island as its own and has responded with ballistic missile test launches over Taipei for the first time and halted some defense and climate talks with Washington.

The duration and exact location of the latest round of exercises are not yet known, but Taiwan has already eased flight restrictions near the six former Chinese exercise areas around the island.

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

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

The drills will include snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles and attack helicopters, the report said, citing an anonymous source.

In addition to launching 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the previous four days of exercises, Chinese warships, warplanes and drones maneuvered extensively around the island.

Near the end of those drills on Sunday, about 10 each from China and Taiwan warships maneuvered at close range around the unofficial centerline of the Taiwan Strait, according to a person familiar with the situation who is involved in security planning.

The visit of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last week infuriated China, prompting it to hold its biggest exercises ever near Taiwan.
The visit of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan last week infuriated China, prompting it to hold its biggest exercises ever near Taiwan.
REUTERS

A commentator on Chinese state television late Sunday said the Chinese military would now conduct “regular” drills on the Taiwanese side of the line.

In Taipei, Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang told reporters Taiwan’s armed forces have been “calm” in handling the Chinese drills. Earlier, the ministry said the drills used warships, planes and drones to simulate attacks on the island and its navy.

China’s designated no-fly zones and centerline crossings have “squeezed” Taiwan’s training space and will affect the normal operation of international flights and air routes going forward, the ministry said in a statement.

But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Monday that China is conducting normal military exercises “in our own waters” in an open, transparent and professional manner, adding that Taiwan is a part of China.

Asked whether China’s ongoing drills comply with international law and whether new civil air and maritime transport warnings would be issued, Wang said relevant departments have issued timely announcements in line with domestic and international law.

China’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, kept up diplomatic pressure on the US and defended the suspension of military-to-military talks in protest at Pelosi’s visit.

China conducted missile tests in the waters off the east coast of Taiwan from an undisclosed location on Aug. 4.
China conducted missile tests in the waters off the east coast of Taiwan from an undisclosed location on Aug. 4.
via REUTERS
A TV screen shows China's People's Liberation Army conducting military drills, including live fire in the waters and airspace around Taiwan.
A TV screen shows China’s People’s Liberation Army conducting military drills, including live fire in the waters and airspace around Taiwan.
REUTERS

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

“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.

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

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

According to security analysts and diplomats, China’s decision to cut some of its few communications links with the US military increases the risk of an accidental escalation via Taiwan at a critical moment.

A US official noted that amid tensions over the past week, Chinese officials have not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials, but that they did not view it as a formal severing of ties with senior figures such as Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

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

The Biden administration and Pelosi said the US remains committed to the “one China” policy, which extends formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing while allowing for robust informal and defense ties with Taipei.

The US, however, has criticized Beijing’s actions across the Taiwan Strait, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling it “fundamentally irresponsible”.

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

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

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

With mail wires

https://nypost.com/2022/08/08/china-extends-military-drills-around-taiwan-after-pelosi-visit/ China expands military drills near Taiwan after Pelosi visit

JACLYN DIAZ

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