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China to continue drills in Taiwan as US ties nosedive

#China #continue #drills #Taiwan #ties #nosedive

China has doubled its retaliation for the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan and announced a suspension of cooperation with Washington on key issues as massive military exercises in the straits were scheduled to resume on Saturday.

Relations between the two superpowers have soured following Pelosi’s trip to China’s self-governing neighbor – which it claims as its territory – prompting calls from the United Nations for an urgent de-escalation of tensions.

And on Friday, the environment became the latest casualty of the geopolitical tournament when Beiing said it would withdraw from a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington — most notably in the areas of climate change and defense cooperation.

The world’s two biggest polluters had pledged to work together this decade to accelerate climate action and promised to meet regularly to deal with the crisis – a deal that now looks shaky.

Beijing will advance some of its biggest military drills around Taiwan on Saturday — drills aimed at practicing a blockade and eventual invasion of the democratic island, analysts say.

“In the waters around the island of Taiwan, more than 10 destroyers and Eastern Theater Command Navy escorts were approaching from different directions to conduct containment operations,” the Chinese Army’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on Friday’s exercises.

And to show how close China’s forces have come to Taiwan’s shores, Beijing’s military released video overnight of an air force pilot filming the island’s shoreline and mountains from his cockpit.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV has reported that Chinese missiles have flown directly over Taiwan during exercises – a major escalation if confirmed.

But Taipei has remained defiant, insisting it will not be intimidated by its “evil neighbor” as it reported on Friday that 68 Chinese warplanes and 13 warships had crossed the “centre line” leading down the Taiwan Strait.

– ‘Punish the whole world’ –

The scale and intensity of the Chinese drills have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies, and the White House summoned the Chinese ambassador to Washington on Friday to reprimand him for Beijing’s actions.

And Beijing’s decision to back out of hard-won cooperation on climate change has now sparked broader fears about the future of the planet.

“It’s obviously of concern and cause for concern,” Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, a climate-focused think tank, told AFP.

It is “impossible to address the climate emergency if number one and number two economies and number one and number two emitters don’t act,” he said.

“And it’s always preferable that they do that in a collaborative way.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington the decision was “fundamentally irresponsible.”

“They’re actually punishing the whole world because the climate crisis knows no geographic boundaries and borders,” Kirby said.

“The world’s largest emitter is now refusing to take decisive steps needed to tackle the climate crisis.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the two superpowers must continue to work together – for the good of the world.

“There is no way for the Secretary-General to solve the world’s most pressing problems without effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries,” said his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

– ‘The New Normal’ –

But with tensions around Taiwan rising to the highest level in almost 30 years and an increased risk of military conflict, experts told AFP the recent downturn in relations between the two superpowers could be deep and long-lasting.

“The relationship is very bad right now,” said Bonnie Glaser, China expert at the German Marshall Fund.

The suspension of bilateral military and maritime dialogue on Friday while China continues military exercises is “particularly worrying,” she said.

“We don’t know what else they will do,” she said. “We just don’t know if this is just a temporary thing.”

John Culver, a former CIA Asia analyst, said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Beijing’s main purpose with its military exercises is to change this status quo.

“I think that’s the new normal,” Culver said.

“The Chinese want to show … that a line has been crossed with the speaker’s visit.”

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