China’s threats do not shake Taiwan. Its president, Tsai Ing-wen, said Wednesday that the island “would not back down” in the face of warnings from Beijing, which is preparing to launch military maneuvers dangerously close to the Taiwanese coast in retaliation for the visit of the president of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. Twenty-seven Chinese military planes entered the Taiwanese air defense zone on Wednesday.
During a meeting with Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Nancy Pelosi, the highest American official to visit the island for twenty-five years, affirmed to have come “in peace” to the region while assuring that the United States United would not abandon the Democratic Island, which lives under the constant threat of an invasion by Beijing. Arriving Tuesday evening aboard an American military plane, Nancy Pelosi left the island Wednesday at 6 p.m. for South Korea, the next stop on her Asian tour.
Before leaving, the US official met with several dissidents who have come under Beijing’s crosshairs in the past, including one of the main student leaders of the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Wu’er Kaixi. “We agree that Taiwan is on the front line [de la démocratie], Wu’er Kaixi said. The American and Taiwanese governments must (…) defend human rights more”.
Nancy Pelosi’s stay has sparked the ire of Beijing, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and vehemently opposes any form of international recognition of the island. “Those who offend China will be punished,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi promised on Wednesday. China’s Defense Ministry has pledged “targeted military actions”, with a series of military maneuvers around the island starting on Thursday, including “long-range live ammunition firing” in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island in mainland China.
These exercises “constitute a necessary and legitimate measure in order to respond to the serious provocations of certain American politicians and Taiwanese separatists”, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the press.
Unwavering support from the United States
“Faced with deliberately increased military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” responded the Taiwanese president. “We will (…) continue to defend democracy”, she affirmed during her meeting with Nancy Pelosi, whom she thanked for having “taken concrete measures to show (her) unwavering support for Taiwan in this critical moment”. According to the coordinates published by the Chinese army, part of the military operations must take place 20 kilometers from the coast of Taiwan. “Some of China’s maneuver areas encroach on…Taiwan’s territorial waters,” Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said.
The heads of G7 diplomacy for their part considered that there was “no justification” for China to use the visit of the speaker of the American House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan as “a pretext” for “aggressive” military maneuvers. “It is normal for MPs from our countries to travel internationally. The response in the form of an escalation” from China “risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region”, judge the seven richest countries (United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, United Kingdom ) in a press release.
China says it will “react vigorously” if the Taiwanese military seeks to disrupt its military exercises, an unnamed source in the Chinese military said late Wednesday.
“If Taiwanese forces voluntarily come into contact with [l’armée chinoise] and come to accidentally fire a shot, [l’armée chinoise]will respond vigorously and it will be up to the Taiwanese side to bear all the consequences,” she said. For its part, Japan said it was “concerned” about the Chinese exercises, saying that some would encroach on its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).