The exercise should end this Sunday, August 7. China must wrap up its largest-ever military maneuvers around Taiwan, an angry reaction to the visit to the island by US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, which plunged relations between Beijing and Washington in the lowest for years.
The number three of the United States unleashed the fury of China with her visit Tuesday and Wednesday, the most important of an American elected official in Taiwan in twenty-five years. Beijing, which considers the island as one of its provinces, reacted by suspending a series of Sino-American bilateral discussions and cooperation, notably on climate change and defence.
Chinese “test firepower”
China’s military has also launched the largest military exercises in its history, sending fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles into what analysts say is a mock blockade and invasion of Taiwan. On Sunday, it conducted “joint practical exercises at sea and in the airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan, as planned”, said the Chinese army’s Eastern Command, which oversees the country’s eastern maritime space – and therefore Taiwan.
These exercises were aimed at “testing joint firepower in the field and long-range air strike capabilities”, he added. The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense confirmed that China had deployed “aircraft, ships and drones” around the strait, “to simulate attacks on the main island of Taiwan and on boats in our waters”.
These vast maneuvers were to be completed at midday, even if Beijing intends to conduct new “live fire” exercises until August 15 in the Yellow Sea, which separates China from the Korean peninsula. Taiwan’s transport ministry said that as of noon, six of the seven “temporary danger zones” that China had asked airlines to avoid had returned to normal, a sign that the drills were coming to an end.
“The flights and navigations concerned can gradually resume,” he said. The seventh zone, in the waters east of Taiwan, will remain to be avoided until Monday at 10 a.m., according to the same source. On the Chinese side, the Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for confirmation of the end of the maneuvers.
A “threat” to “the region”
To prove how close it had come to the Taiwanese coast, the Chinese army on Saturday published a photo it said it took from one of its military ships, showing a Taiwanese navy building just a few hundred meters away. . This shot may be the closest to the Taiwanese coastline ever taken by mainland Chinese forces.
On the Taiwanese side, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said on Sunday that China was “using military action in a barbaric way” to disrupt peace in the Taiwan Strait, which separates mainland China from the island. “We call on the Chinese government not to brandish its military force, not to flex its muscles everywhere to endanger the peace of the region,” he told reporters. The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimated that the exercises threaten “the region and even the world”.