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Taiwan says Chinese planes, ships conduct attack simulation exercise

Written by Javed Iqbal

  • Chinese naval aircraft carry out simulated attack
  • Blinken calls China’s suspension of dialogue ‘irresponsible’
  • China urges US to ‘correct mistakes’

TAIPEI, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Taiwan officials said Chinese aircraft and warships rehearsed a strike on the island on Saturday, part of Beijing’s retaliation for a visit there by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that has also seen it stall talks with United States on issues including defense and climate change.

Pelosi’s brief visit this week to the self-governing island, which China considers its territory, enraged Beijing and prompted unprecedented military exercises that have included ballistic missiles fired over the capital, Taipei.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China of taking “irresponsible steps” by shutting down key channels of communication with Washington, saying its actions over Taiwan showed a move from prioritizing peaceful resolution to the use of force. Read more

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The Chinese exercises – centered on six locations around the island – began on Thursday and are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said several Chinese ships and aircraft carried out missions in the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, in what Taiwan’s military described as a simulated attack on the island.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it had continued to conduct joint naval and air exercises north, southwest and east of Taiwan. It said its focus was on testing the system’s land attack and sea attack capabilities.

Chinese warships and aircraft continued to “push” into the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday afternoon, a person familiar with security planning said.

Off Taiwan’s east coast and close to Japanese islands, Chinese warships and drones simulated attacks on US and Japanese warships, the person added.

Taiwan’s military issued a warning while deploying aerial reconnaissance patrol forces and ships to monitor and put land-based missiles on standby.

The island’s defense ministry released a photo of a Taiwanese sailor on a frigate looking at a nearby Chinese warship off Taiwan’s east coast. “Definitely not photoshopped!” said the caption.

It also said it fired emergency flares late on Friday to warn seven drones flying over its Kinmen Islands and unidentified aircraft flying over its Matsu Islands. Both archipelagos are close to the coast of mainland China.

Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday in the highest visit to the island by a US official in decades, despite Chinese warnings.

Shortly after her delegation left Japan on Friday, the last stop on a week-long Asia tour, China announced it was halting dialogue with the United States on a number of issues, including contacts between military commanders at the theater level and on climate change.

During a visit to the Philippines, Blinken said the United States had heard concerns from allies about what he called China’s dangerous and destabilizing actions around Taiwan, but Washington would remain steady in its handling of the situation and sought to avoid escalating the situation.

He said China’s suspension of bilateral dialogue in eight key areas were moves that would punish the world, not just the United States.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a media briefing Friday that Blinken was spreading “misinformation,” adding: “We want to issue a warning to the United States: Don’t act rashly, don’t create a bigger crisis,” Wang said.

Jing Quan, a senior official from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, echoed that, telling a briefing: “The only way out of this crisis is for the US side to immediately take measures to correct its mistakes and eliminate the serious impact of Pelosi’s visit.”

‘PROVOCATIVE MILITARY EXERCISES’

White House spokesman John Kirby said Friday there was nothing for the United States to fix.

“The Chinese can go a long way to defuse tensions by simply stopping these provocative military exercises and ending the rhetoric,” he told reporters.

China has not mentioned a suspension of military talks at the highest levels, such as with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. While these calls have been rare, officials have said they are important in the event of an emergency.

Kirby said it was not atypical for China to shut down military talks during periods of tension, but “not all channels” between military leaders had been closed.

Speaking in Japan after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Pelosi said her trip to Asia was “not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region”. Read more

Japan’s Defense Ministry reported that as many as four missiles flew over Taiwan’s capital, which is unprecedented. It also said five out of nine missiles fired at its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone.

Kishida told visiting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he strongly condemned China’s missile launches as “a serious matter concerning Japan’s security and the security of the Japanese people”, the Foreign Ministry said.

The Chinese embassy in Australia, meanwhile, said Beijing hoped Australia would be cautious on Taiwan issues and avoid being led by others, which could create new problems for ties between the two countries.

Its spokesman’s remarks, published on the embassy’s website, commented on an earlier statement released by Blinken and the foreign ministers of Australia and Japan expressing concern over China’s military exercises.

Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communists seized power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists in a civil war, prompting their retreat to the island.

Beijing says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and that it reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects China’s claims, saying only the people of Taiwan can decide their future.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei, David Brunnstrom in Manila and Brenda Goh in Shanghai Writing by Tony Munroe and Greg Torode Editing by Robert Birsel and Frances Kerry

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Javed Iqbal

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