China expands navy workout routines and escalates threats towards Taiwan

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China has announced additional live-fire drills in the Bohai and Yellow Seas, while Beijing is expressing anger over a visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) with military drills near the island in Taiwan.

China’s Defense Ministry did not disclose the purpose of the expanded drills, which are taking place as the visit has soured US-China relations, but they come as Beijing staged its biggest show of force over Taiwan since the last 1995 cross-strait crisis in 1996 — in a so-called warning to “provocateurs” questioning Beijing’s claims on Taiwan, the self-governing democracy of 23 million people.

China’s Maritime Safety Administration on Saturday announced five no-holds-barred zones in the Yellow Sea where drills would be held from Aug. 5-15, and another four zones in the Bohai Sea where no closers would be held for a month from Aug. 5-15 designated Chinese military operations would take place 8.

Although China officially seeks a so-called “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan — which was never ruled by the Chinese Communist Party — it also consistently threatens to take the island by force if the Taipei government declares formal independence.

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The diplomatic fallout from the visit escalated sharply on Friday, as Beijing imposed sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family, canceled military dialogues, and suspended climate talks and other bilateral cooperation on issues such as cross-border crime.

The White House has subpoenaed Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang over “irresponsible” military actions, including firing missiles into the waters around Taiwan. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken called the exercises an “extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response”.

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But China has shown no signs of slowing the pace of military exercises. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said Sunday it would continue joint air and naval exercises in the areas around Taiwan as planned, focusing on long-range strikes against targets in the sky.

After a record number of Chinese warplanes flew near Taiwan’s airspace on Friday, 14 jets crossed the Taiwan Strait centerline on Saturday as 14 Chinese warships were active nearby. Three years ago, breaches of the informal boundary dividing the waterway were unknown.

Taiwan’s defense ministry described Saturday morning’s Chinese exercises as a “simulated attack on Taiwan’s main island.”

Taiwan has also reported drones and unidentified objects flying over Kinmen and Matsu, two Taiwan-ruled islands closest to the coast of China’s Fujian province. The Kinmen Defense Command fired warning flares at three drones flying over its restricted waters on Saturday.

Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the PLA-affiliated National Defense University, told state broadcaster China Central Television in an interview published Sunday that the drills aim to “completely break the so-called middle line” and demonstrate China’s ability to withstand foreign intervention prevent conflict by blockading and controlling the Bashi Canal, a major waterway between the western Pacific and the South China Sea.

Military analysts have said the Chinese live-fire drills that began on Thursday and took place on all sides of Taiwan simulate a possible blockade of the island, but Taiwan’s government said the disruption to shipping routes and flights has been limited so far.

Pelosi ended the congressional delegation’s Asia trip on Friday by vowing that China would not succeed in isolating Taiwan.

For decades, the Chinese Communist Party has pursued a global pressure campaign to diplomatically isolate Taiwan’s democratically elected government by poaching its diplomatic partners and fiercely discouraging exchanges between Taipei and foreign officials.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan heralds a new phase in China’s pressure campaign

China accuses the United States of backing its “one China” policy – which neither challenges nor supports Beijing’s claims to the island – with steps to solidify its unofficial ties with Taiwan, including the first visit by the speaker of the House of Representatives in 25 years , hollow out. The White House sticks to politics.

Despite unprecedented military pressure, the Taiwanese public has remained largely calm in the face of the mounting Chinese threat. President Tsai Ing-wen said Thursday, “We are calm and will not act rashly. We are rational and will not act to provoke.”

Taiwan’s military annual drills, held in the week before Pelosi’s visit, were left unchanged despite increasingly angry warnings from Beijing. As exercises began, local media reported that tourists visiting Xiaoliuqiu, a small island off Taiwan’s southwestern coast, flocked to the shore to see if they could catch a glimpse of Chinese missiles landing in nearby waters .

The Taiwanese stock market had recovered by Friday from a brief midweek slump.

Pei Lin Wu in Taipei contributed to this report.

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