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Friday, August 19, 2022

After Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China gears up for military drills

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Chinese authorities are gearing up for military exercises in the seas around Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the island, despite China’s warning against it, BBC reported on Thursday.

Ms Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a brief but controversial visit to the island, which China regards as a breakaway province.

China has in response announced five days of “necessary and just” military drills, which will begin on Thursday.

Taiwan said 27 Chinese warplanes had already entered its air defence zone.

On Wednesday, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had scrambled jets to warn them off.

The ministry later added that unidentified aircraft, probably drones, had flown over the outlying Kinmen islands. It said the military fired flares to drive away the aircraft and stayed on high alert.

China has said the exercises will take place in some of the world’s busiest waterways and will include “long-range live ammunition shooting”.

Taiwan has asked ships to find alternative routes to avoid the drills and is negotiating with neighbouring Japan and the Philippines to find alternative aviation routes.

President Tsai Ing-wen said the country was facing “deliberately heightened military threats”.

In an effort to calm matters, the foreign ministers of the G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US – released a joint statement saying China’s escalation risked destabilising the region, stating “There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally”.

Ms Pelosi, a known China opponent is the senior most US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, made the trip as part of a wider Asian tour.

Accusing the US of “violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy”, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished.”

In a statement after the visit, Ms Pelosi said China cannot “prevent world leaders or anyone from travelling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration”.

After leaving Taiwan, Ms Pelosi travelled to South Korea, where she is due to meet the speaker of the National Assembly, Kim Jin-pyo.

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