World · August 5, 2022

Taiwan condemns China “evil neighbor” for war drills

Taiwan blew up its “evil neighbor next door” today after China surrounded the island with a series of military exercises that were condemned by the US and other Western allies.

During military exercises on Thursday, continued on Friday, China launched ballistic missiles and deployed fighter jets and warships around Taiwan.

The People’s Liberation Army has declared several prohibited danger zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest sea routes in the world and reaching within 20km of the island’s shores in some places.

Beijing said the drills would continue until noon on Sunday and Taipei reported that Chinese fighters and ships crossed the “midline” running along the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning.

“Starting at 11:00, several batches of Chinese warplanes and warships conducted exercises around the Taiwan Strait and crossed the midline of the Strait,” the Taipei Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The midline is an unofficial border, but once largely joined to the border that runs in the middle of the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan and China.

Chinese raids have become more common since Beijing declared in 2020 that the unofficial border no longer existed.

Beijing called its war games a “necessary” response to a visit to the self-governing Democratic island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Washington retorted that Chinese leaders had “chosen to overreact.”

Pelosi defended her visit on Friday, saying Washington “would not allow” China to isolate Taiwan.

“We have said from the beginning that our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia, about changing the status quo in Taiwan,” he told reporters in Tokyo during the final leg of an Asia tour.

Taiwanese premier Su Tseng-chang, meanwhile, has asked the allies to push for a reduction in the escalation.

“(We) didn’t expect the evil neighbor next door to show his power at our door and arbitrarily jeopardize the world’s busiest waterways with his military drills,” he told reporters.

The Chinese exercises involved a “conventional missile assault” in the waters east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.

State news agency Xinhua said the Chinese military “flew more than 100 fighter and bomber warplanes” during the exercises, as well as “over 10 destroyers and frigates”.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles had flown directly to Taiwan.

Japan also said that of the nine missiles detected, four “were believed to have flown over the main island of Taiwan”.

The Taipei army said it will not confirm the missile flight paths in an attempt to protect its intelligence capabilities and not allow China to “intimidate us.”

The ruling Communist Party of China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has promised to take it one day if necessary by force.

But the scale and intensity of the exercises have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies.

“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” John Kirby, a White House spokesperson, told reporters.

“The temperature is quite high,” but tensions “can only drop very easily if the Chinese stop these very aggressive military exercises,” he added.

Japan filed a formal diplomatic complaint against Beijing, with five of the missiles believed to have landed in its exclusive economic zone.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the Chinese exercises a “serious problem that has an impact on our national security and the safety of our citizens” and called for “the immediate cancellation of military exercises”.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the “flagrant provocation” by the United States set an “excellent precedent”.

The maneuvers are taking place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to supply global markets with vital semiconductors and electronic equipment manufactured in East Asian factory hubs.

The Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau has warned ships to prevent the areas from being used for Chinese drills.

“The closure of these transport routes, even temporarily, has consequences not only for Taiwan, but also for trade flows linked to Japan and South Korea,” Nick Marro, chief analyst of the Economist Intelligence Unit, wrote in a statement. for global trade.

Taiwan said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes passing through its flight information region, while several international airlines told AFP they would divert flights.

But Taipei’s markets seemed to be shaking off tensions, with the Taiwan Taiex Shipping and Transportation Index, which tracks major shipping and airline stocks, up 2.3% early Friday.

And analysts broadly agree that, despite all its aggressive stance, Beijing does not want an active military conflict against the United States and its allies over Taiwan for the time being.

“The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war triggered,” Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-Sen University, told AFP.

Originally published as Taiwan condemns China’s “evil neighbor” for war drills