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Taiwan says several Chinese aircraft and vessels were seen in a possible simulated attack

Written by Javed Iqbal

The ministry said some of the planes and vessels had crossed the sensitive center line of the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China.

“Our military has issued warnings, deployed combat air patrol and naval vessels and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation,” the ministry said.

The statement did not specify exactly how many Chinese aircraft and vessels were detected.

The Chinese military has yet to issue a statement on the purpose of Saturday’s drills.

The news follows a series of military exercises which China has been conducting around Taiwan since Thursday following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the self-governing democratic island earlier this week.
Views of the Chinese Communist Party Taiwan as its territory, despite never having controlled it, and has long vowed to “reunify” the island with mainland China – by force if necessary.
China sends warships and jets close to Taiwan and sparks alarm in Japan as tensions rise

Pelosi ignored furious opposition to her visit by landing in Taipei Tuesday night as part of a larger Asia tour that ended Friday with a final stop in Japan.

But the full consequences of her visit are only now emerging, with China increasing military exercises in the skies and waters around Taiwan and suspending cooperation with the United States on various issues.

On Friday, 68 Chinese warplanes were reported in the Taiwan Strait, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense. Of those, 49 entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone — a buffer of airspace commonly referred to as an ADIZ. It was just a few planes short of the record set last year when 56 Chinese warplanes entered the ADIZ on the same day.

Nineteen of the warplanes also crossed the median line dividing the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the ministry said.

On Thursday, China launched 11 ballistic missiles – some of which flew over the island of Taiwan and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, prompting Tokyo to lodge a formal complaint with Beijing. It was the first time China had sent missiles over the island.

Also Thursday, two Chinese drones flew near Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, prompting Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force to scrambled fighter jets in response.

The exercises are scheduled to last until Sunday local time in Beijing, according to Chinese state media.

Diplomatic fallout

The worsening situation in the Taiwan Strait has caused a diplomatic storm with China knock out against countries that have criticized its exercises and some regional powers calling for de-escalation.

Tensions were high at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia this week, where members had originally expected to discuss three main topics: the Myanmar crisis, the South China Sea and the war in Ukraine.

But Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan added “a fourth hot stone … which has led to heated discussions on cross-strait relations,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said at a Saturday news conference in Phnom Penh.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both attended the ASEAN meeting; on Thursday, Wang dismissed Pelosi’s visit as demonstrating the “bankruptcy” of American politics and credibility, calling it “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational behavior.”

A day later, after Beijing fired its missiles over Taiwan, Blinken said China had “chose to overreact and use President Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.”

On Saturday, Sokhonn described the meeting as lively and said he had to call on all ministers to speak in a calm, dignified, polite, civilized and diplomatic manner.

“There were strong arguments, but in our opinion it is much better that we exchange words than less friendly means,” he said.

Japan and other G7 economies have called on China to halt its military exercises and maintain the status quo in the region.

Beijing has not heeded these calls. Instead, it has responded by canceling future phone calls between Chinese and US defense chiefs and annual naval meetings between the two countries. It has also canceled planned meetings between Chinese and Japanese officials.

China has also summoned the ambassadors of the United States, Japan and various European countries.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry announced a series of countermeasures against the United States, including sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family.

Military drills hammer home China's relentless message in the Taiwan Strait

China also suspended bilateral climate talks and shelved cooperation on issues including the repatriation of illegal immigrants and the investigation of cross-border crimes and drug operations.

“We should not hold hostage cooperation on issues of global interest because of differences between our two countries,” Blinken told reporters on Saturday, speaking in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

China’s decision to suspend climate talks “could have lasting consequences for the future of the region, the future of our planet,” and would punish developing countries instead of the United States, he added.

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Javed Iqbal

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