China continued to project its ire against the recent visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan on Saturday, with its third consecutive day of military exercises that have increasingly invaded the island and raised concerns about potential conflict.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said Saturday that several batches of Chinese military planes and warships have been detected around the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the informal midline dividing the island from mainland China. They appeared to be engaged in a drill simulating an attack on the main island of Taiwan, the ministry said.
China’s show of force, which is expected to last Sunday, has already threatened a territory that Taiwan regards as its own more directly than any previous exercise.
China has launched at least 11 missiles into the waters north, south and east of Taiwan, including at least one that flew over the island, although Taiwan claimed to be at a high altitude that posed no threat. On Friday he also deployed fighters, bombers, destroyers, drones and escort ships in the waters near the island. Many of the areas designated by the Chinese military for this week’s exercises are closer to the island than the areas announced during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the mid-1990s, which also involved China launching missiles around Taiwan.
Since the exercises began Thursday, at least 49 Chinese military jets have crossed the midline, according to Taiwanese officials.
Understanding the China-Taiwan tensions
What does China mean for Taiwan? China claims Taiwan, an autonomous island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long promised to take it back, if necessary by force. The island, where Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese forces withdrew after the Communist Revolution of 1949, has never been part of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday that China had “created a crisis unilaterally” by overreacting to Ms. Pelosi’s visit.
“The Taiwanese people have the right to make friends with the rest of the world and China has no right to interfere with the rest of the world that makes friends with Taiwan,” the statement said.
The military exercises are the most visible element of China’s response to Ms. Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which she said was intended to show support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Prior to her arrival on Tuesday, China had repeatedly warned that Ms. Pelosi’s gesture – the highest US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years – would have “grave consequences”. China claims Taiwan as its territory and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, has promised eventual reunification, if necessary by force.
China also said Friday that it will cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts say could increase the chances of a miscommunication turning into a full-fledged crisis.
At the same time, the United States is seeking to strengthen its ties with other Asian countries as a counterweight to China’s regional and global influence. On Saturday, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. In Manila. In a public exchange, Mr. Marcos told Mr. Blinken that he did not think Ms. Pelosi’s visit had “increased the ‘intensity’ of tensions in the region, which he said had already been high – an apparent refutation of China’s claims that the United States was responsible for the current frictions.
Fears that China would try to physically prevent Ms. Pelosi’s visit had not been realized. But US officials remain concerned that the drills, which began less than 24 hours after leaving Taiwan, may still escalate, intentionally or accidentally, into more direct conflict.
Chinese officials, who have encouraged swashbuckling and sometimes virulent nationalism at home, may feel pressured to show they are giving a strong response. Some Chinese social media users have expressed disappointment or embarrassment that the government did not go further to prevent Ms. Pelosi’s visit; some made it clear that they expected military action.
While the drills do not directly degenerate into a full-blown crisis, they could signal a new pattern of aggression and raids by the Chinese military. The Global Times, a state-owned tabloid, said in an editorial Friday that the work of promoting reunification with Taiwan had “entered a new phase”.
The United States tried to avoid further provoking China. He said he remained committed to the status quo in Taiwan, acknowledging China’s stated claim on the island without acknowledging it. The Pentagon has ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “stay on station” in the region, keeping some distance from the Taiwan Strait.
But China has made it clear that it considers any criticism of its exercises an affront. He summoned several ambassadors after their countries expressed concern about the exercises. After some of the Chinese missiles landed on Thursday in waters that Japan claims as its own, leading the Japanese prime minister to demand an “immediate arrest”, a representative from the Chinese embassy in Japan told Japan not to “slip into the abyss.” “of geopolitical confrontation.
Amy Chang Chien, Giovanni Liu Other Edoardo Wong contributed reportage.