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China says military drills around Taiwan will continue

August 8, 2022

China has said military exercises around the contested island would continue. Several days of activity have disrupted shipping and air travel, with Taiwan saying the move amounts to a blockade.

Two Chinese military aircrafts above the Taiwan Strait
China is conducting more maneuvers surrounding TaiwanImage: Gong Yulong/Xinhua/Xinhua News Agency/picture alliance

The Chinese military carried out further military drills around Taiwan on Monday, Beijing said, despite calls to end its largest-ever exercises enclosing the self-governed island.

Live-fire drills started on Thursday after the controversial visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In his first remarks about the visit since it occurred, US President Joe Biden said he was "concerned" not about Taiwan, but rather China's reaction.

Biden added, "I don't think they're going to do anything more than they are."

In a statement, the Chinese military's eastern command said, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army continued to carry out practical joint exercises and training in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island, focusing on organizing joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations."

A Chinese pilot sits in the cockpit of a fighter jet, flying against a blue sky
Beijing has deployed several fighter jets, warships and ballistic missilesImage: Li Bingyu/dpa/XinHua/picture alliance

Military drills in the sea and by air 

Beijing has deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles in what experts have described as practice for a blockade and, potentially, an ultimate invasion of the self-ruled island which China claims as its territory.

Chinese news agency Xinhua had previously reported that the military drills were supposed to last from Thursday to Sunday. But neither China nor Taiwan has confirmed the conclusion of the exercises, with some Chinese commentators claiming that the drills could become commonplace going forward. 

The Taiwanese military reported that Chinese aircrafts had flown 66 sorties on Sunday alone. Twenty-two of the aircraft had crossed the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, while 14 sea vessels had been part of maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait, according to Taipei.

Taiwan said the drills repeatedly involved Chinese ships and planes crossing the so-called median line in the Taiwan Strait, calling this unofficial boundary a "fact."

The median line splits the Taiwan Strait in half, mid-way between Taiwan and China, and has served as the unofficial line of control between the two for decades.

Taiwan's shore-based anti-ship missiles and its Patriot surface-to-air-missiles were on standby. 

A man takes picture at the harbour where Taiwanese Navy warships are anchored
China has continued its military drills surrounding Taiwan, despite first announcing plans to end them on SundayImage: Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

What China and Taiwan are saying 

China's Foreign Ministry called the drills "normal military exercises," saying that the country was acting in an "open and transparent" manner inside their "own waters."

A spokesperson for the foreign ministry further called the maneuvers "necessary warnings" to the US and Taiwan. The drills were "an appropriate reaction" to the "provocation" caused by Pelosi's visit. 

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it strongly condemned the extension of the Chinese military drills. It went on to say that "China's provocation and aggression" had "harmed the status quo of the Taiwan Strait and raised tensions in the region." 

Taiwan's Premier Su Tseng-chang has accused Beijing of "arrogantly" using military action to disrupt peace and mounting a campaign of psychological warfare against the self-ruled island.

The latest military exercises began immediately after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan despite China announcing "serious repercussions" if she traveled to Taipei.

China has demanded that countries choose between holding formal diplomatic relations with either Beijing or Taipei. The US abides by this, following the so-called "one-China" principle, and has said that Pelosi's visit changed nothing about its official policy. However, the US is simultaneously China's most important political and military backer.

Several countries have called for China to halt the military exercises.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong signed a joint statement with the United States and Japan on Saturday that condemned firing of missiles into Japanese exclusive economic zones and accused China of "raising tension and destabilizing the region.''

los/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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