China on Saturday continued to express anger over the recent visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, as its military exercises moved closer to the island for the third day in a row, raising concerns about a potential conflict.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that several convoys of Chinese military planes and warships were spotted near the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the unofficial median line separating Taiwan from mainland China. The Defense Ministry said they appeared to be conducting an exercise simulating an attack on the main island of Taiwan.
China’s show of force, expected to last until Sunday, has threatened territory that Taiwan considers its own more directly than any previous exercise.
China has fired at least 11 missiles into the waters north, south and east of Taiwan, with at least one flying over the island, although Taiwan says the island is at high altitudes and poses no threat. It also deployed fighter jets, bombers, destroyers, drones and escorts in the waters off the island on Friday. Several areas designated by the Chinese military for this week’s exercises are closer to the island than those declared during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the mid-1990s, when China also fired missiles around Taiwan.
At least 49 Chinese military planes have crossed the median line since the drills began on Thursday, according to Taiwanese officials.
Understanding China-Taiwan tensions
What does China mean to Taiwan? China claims Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy of 23 million people, as its territory and has long vowed to take it back by force if necessary. Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese troops retreated to the island after the communist revolution in 1949, and the island never became part of the People’s Republic of China.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement Saturday that China overreacted to Pelosi’s visit and “unilaterally created a crisis.”
“The people of Taiwan have the right to be friendly with the world, and China has no right to interfere in the world’s friendship with Taiwan,” the statement said.
The military exercises were the most visible element of China’s response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which she has said was a show of support for the island and its vibrant democracy. Before her arrival on Tuesday, China had repeatedly warned that the gesture of Pelosi — the most senior U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years — would have “serious consequences.” China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has promised eventual reunification, by force if necessary.
China also said on Friday it would cancel or suspend talks with the United States on military coordination and climate change, which some analysts said could increase the chances of miscommunication turning into a full-blown crisis.
At the same time, the United States is seeking to strengthen ties with other Asian countries to counter China’s regional and global influence. Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila on Saturday. In a public exchange, Mr. Marcos told Mr. Blinken that he did not think Ms. Pelosi’s visit had “raised” tensions in the region, which he said were already high – an apparent response to China’s Claiming that US countries are responsible for the current friction.
Fears that China would try to physically block Pelosi’s visit did not materialize. But U.S. officials remain concerned that the drills, which began less than 24 hours after she left Taiwan, could still escalate into a more direct conflict, intentionally or unintentionally.
Chinese officials, who encourage arrogance and sometimes vicious nationalism at home, may feel pressure to show that they are responding forcefully. Some Chinese social media users expressed disappointment or embarrassment that the government did not further block Ms. Pelosi’s visit; some made it clear that they had been expecting military action.
Even if the exercise does not directly escalate into a full-blown crisis, it could herald a new pattern of Chinese military aggression and aggression. State-run tabloid Global Times, said in an editorial The push for reunification with Taiwan “entered a new phase” on Friday.
The U.S. is trying to avoid further angering China. It has said it remains committed to the status quo in Taiwan, acknowledging China’s claim to the island of Taiwan but not it. The Pentagon ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “stop” in the area while maintaining some distance from the Taiwan Strait.
But China has made it clear that any criticism of its exercises is an insult.it called several ambassadors after their country express concern About the exercise.On Thursday, some Chinese missiles landed in waters that Japan claims to be its own, leading the Japanese prime minister to call for an “immediate stop,” said a representative of the Chinese embassy in Japan. Tell Japan should not “slip into the abyss of geopolitical confrontation”.
Amy Zhang Qian, John Liu and Edward Wang Contribution report.