Where China plans to conduct military exercises around Taiwan

While much of the attention has been on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the real potential for a military showdown will come after her departure.

The Chinese military said it would conduct a series of live-fire drills starting Thursday, the day after she left. A post on Chinese state media provided coordinates for five areas of the sea around Taiwan, three of which overlap with areas that Taiwan says are part of its territorial waters.

Assuming the exercise continues, it would mark a direct challenge to Taiwan’s defined coastline. They get to the heart of a decades-long divide over which China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, an autonomous island with its own democratically elected government and military.

A New York Times map of the planned exercises shows how the drills will be conducted within 10 miles of Taiwan’s coast, far beyond the areas targeted by previous live-fire exercises and areas designated by Taiwan as its territorial waters. The two areas where Chinese forces will fire weapons, possibly missiles and artillery, are both within Taiwan’s so-called maritime borders. Overall, five zones surround the island, marking a clear escalation of China’s previous exercises.

In the warning, the Chinese military called on all ships and aircraft to avoid areas it identified for three days. A key question for Taiwan and the U.S. military will be whether they obey orders or test China’s resolve to conduct tests by sending ships and planes into these areas.

The standoff is reminiscent of the events of 1995 and 1996 known as the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. then,

China fired live ammunition and missiles into the waters surrounding Taiwan in a show of anger over a visit to the United States by then-President Lee Teng-hui. The United States then dispatched two aircraft carrier formations to the region, one of which sailed through the Taiwan Strait.

The new live-fire drills will be conducted closer to the islands than in 1995 and 1996, creating problems for Taiwan and the United States. If China takes action, they must decide whether to show force as in previous crises.

A lot has changed since then. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, the Chinese military is stronger and more confident. This summer, Chinese officials also strongly asserted that no part of the Taiwan Strait can be considered international waters, meaning they could take action to intercept and prevent U.S. warships from sailing in the region, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. one.

China wasted little time showing it was serious. On Wednesday, its state broadcaster released images of preparatory exercises in the region showing Chinese troops conducting naval and land strikes, air combat and “joint containment” in northern, southwestern and southeastern Taiwan.

Also on Wednesday, Taiwan’s military tried to hold its defenses while saying it did not want the situation to escalate. It called the exercise a blockade and said the exercise intruded into Taiwan’s territorial waters and endangered international shipping lanes and regional security.

“We resolutely defend national sovereignty and will fight back against any violation of national sovereignty,” Major General Sun Lifang, spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, said in response to the exercise.

“We will increase our vigilance with a rational attitude that will not exacerbate conflict,” he added.

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