Shortly after Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan, the Chinese military said it would conduct drills that appeared to encroach on Taiwan’s territorial waters, setting the stage for a potential showdown. about self-governing islands between China and the United States.
According to a statement by Xinhua, China’s state news agency, Beijing has announced plans for six areas surrounding Taiwan, where it said it will conduct live-fire drills from Monday. Year to Sunday. Ships and aircraft have been warned not to enter those areas – some of which overlap the island’s territorial waters – for “safety reasons”, the statement said. One of the areas planned for the drills appeared to be less than 12 kilometers from Kaohsiung, a southern port city, according to a map released by Xinhua.
In a separate statement, the People’s Liberation Army said that starting Tuesday evening, it will begin to conduct a series of joint naval and air exercises in the waters and airspace to the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan, according to a statement issued by Col Shi Yi, a spokesman for China’s Eastern Theater Command.
Those exercises will include “long-range live-fire firing in the Taiwan Strait” and “routine guided fire testing in the eastern seaboard” off Taiwan, the statement said. Time is open to the possibility that the exercises could begin while Ms. Pelosi, the speaker of the House, remains in Taiwan.
Separate statements issued by China’s foreign ministry and defense ministry said military actions were necessary to “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Chinese state media have repeatedly issued threatening messages. The official People’s Daily newspaper wrote about social media on Tuesday that “fire-players will set themselves on fire,” seemingly echoing similar warnings by Chinese officials over the past year.
The Global Times, a Chinese nationalist newspaper, said in a Editor China’s countermeasures will not be a one-time event but a combination of long-term actions, resolutely and steadfastly moving forward.
Song Zhongping, an independent Chinese military analyst, said the two announcements were about a single exercise. He said preparations would begin on Tuesday, but live-fire drills would take place from Thursday to Sunday.
“The People’s Liberation Army’s struggle with Taiwan will increase in frequency and it will escalate the size of its force in response to the provocations of the US government,” he said. added that drills across the maritime demarcation line between Taiwan and China will become more frequent.
The planned exercises are likely to be the clearest display of China’s military might in the region since the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis, when China fired missiles to threaten the island. island and President Bill Clinton sent an aircraft carrier into the area. Analysts say the drills will temporarily block access to some commercial shipping routes and ports of Taiwan.
However, the exercises appear to be largely a signaling exercise intended to project strength at home and abroad.
“They’re signaling that we really don’t like this and we want to see less of it,” said Joe McReynolds, senior China analyst at the Washington-based Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis. this more”. “They don’t signal that we are about to go to war.”
One concern, however, is that a rapidly evolving situation could lead to a chance encounter that could spiral out of control. It remains to be seen how Taiwan and the United States will react to China’s actions. Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement that it would “respond appropriately in time” and accused China of “unilaterally undermining regional peace and stability”.
Chieh Chung, a security analyst with the National Policy Foundation in Taipei, said: “China’s upcoming military exercises will bring great pressure on the Taiwanese military. “If a minor accident occurs, the low trust between the two sides of the strait and the lack of experience in dealing with the crisis has the potential to escalate tensions and lead to irreversible consequences.”
Joy Dong contribution report. Claire Fu contribution research.