Taiwan yesterday reiterated that it would not succumb to pressure from Beijing after China carried out its most provocative military drills in decades in retaliation for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan last week.
“We will never bow to pressure. We uphold freedom and democracy, and believe Taiwanese disapprove [of] China’s bullying actions with force and saber rattling at our door,” Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
China had “arrogantly” disrupted regional peace and stability, he said, calling on Beijing to not flex its military muscles.
Photo: Military News Agency
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has also called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military exercises started on Thurdsay. They included missile strikes on targets in the seas around Taiwan proper and aircraft crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
The exercises were set to end yesterday, although Beijing has announced fresh drills in the Yellow Sea between China and the Korean Peninsula, which are to run until Monday next week.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
A Chinese state television report yesterday said that the PLA would from now on conduct “regular” drills on the eastern side of the median line of the Taiwan Strait, prompting condemnation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry urged China to stop its “unreasonable behavior,” which it said endangers the region, and even common global well-being.
Yesterday, Beijing conducted “practical joint exercises in the sea and airspace surrounding Taiwan Island as planned,” the Chinese Eastern Theater Command said.
The drills were focused “on testing the joint firepower on the ground and long-range air strike capabilities,” it said.
The Ministry of National Defense confirmed that China had dispatched “planes, vessels and drones” around the Taiwan Strait, “simulating attacks on Taiwan’s main island and on ships in our waters.”
Beijing also sent drones over Taiwan’s outlying islands, it added.
However, the ministry disputed Chinese state media reports saying that the PLA’s Nanjing Type 052D destroyer had sailed into Taiwan’s territorial waters near Ho-Ping Power Plant in Hualien County, and urged Taiwanese not to be taken in by Beijing’s disinformation campaigns.
About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan sailed at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two nations, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
As Chinese forces “pressed” the line, as they did on Saturday, Taiwan remained close to monitor and, where possible, prevent the Chinese from crossing it, the person said.
“The two sides are showing restraint,” the person said, describing the high-seas maneuvers as a game of “cat and mouse.”
“One side tries to cross, and the other stands in the way and forces them to a more disadvantageous position, and they eventually return to the other side,” the person said.
Taiwan said it mobilized a “joint intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance system to closely monitor the enemy situation,” and dispatched planes and vessels.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said that flights through Taiwan’s airspace had gradually resumed yesterday at about noon, as most notifications for Chinese military drills near the nation were “no longer in effect.”
However, Taiwan would continue to direct flights and ships away from a Chinese military drill off its east coast until 10am this morning, it said in a statement.
China has so far also cut off defense and climate talks with the US, and imposed sanctions on Pelosi and her family in retaliation for her visit.
While the administration of US President Joe Biden and Pelosi say Washington remains committed to the US’ “one China” policy, the US has criticized Beijing’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling them “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“There’s no need and no reason for this escalation,” Jean-Pierre said.
Singaporean Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean (張志賢) said on Facebook on Saturday that the US-China tensions over Taiwan are “an issue that can lead to conflict and war to the detriment of all parties involved, especially the people in Taiwan.”
The tensions would have a negative impact on Southeast Asia, Teo said, adding: “We hope that wisdom will prevail.”
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