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Taiwan condemns “evil neighbors” China over war drills

#Taiwan #condemns #evil #neighbors #China #war #drills

Taiwan blew up its “bad neighbor next door” on Friday after China encircled the island with a series of huge military drills condemned by the United States and other Western allies.

During Thursday’s military exercises, which continued on Friday, China fired ballistic missiles and stationed both warplanes and warships around Taiwan.

The People’s Liberation Army has declared several no-go danger zones around Taiwan, spanning some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and in some places within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the island’s coast.

Beijing said the exercises would continue until Sunday noon, and Taipei reported that Chinese warplanes and ships crossed the “center line” that runs along the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning.

“As of 11 a.m., several groups of Chinese warplanes and warships were conducting drills around the Taiwan Strait and crossing the center line of the strait,” the Taipei Defense Ministry said in a statement.

The Median Line is an unofficial but once widely observed boundary that runs down the middle of the Taiwan Strait separating Taiwan and China.

Chinese incursions have become more frequent since Beijing declared in 2020 that the unofficial border no longer exists.

Beijing has called its war games a “necessary” response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing, democratic island, but Washington countered that China’s leaders “have decided to overreact.”

Pelosi defended her visit Friday, saying Washington will “not allow” China to isolate Taiwan.

“We have said from the beginning that our representation here is not about changing the status quo here in Asia or the status quo in Taiwan,” she told reporters in Tokyo on the final leg of an Asian tour.

Meanwhile, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang called on allies to push for de-escalation.

“[We]didn’t expect that the evil next door neighbor would show his power on our doorstep and indiscriminately endanger the world’s busiest waterways with his military drills,” he told reporters.

– Missiles over Taiwan –

China’s drills included a “conventional missile strike” in waters east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said the Chinese army flew “more than 100 warplanes, including fighters and bombers” and “over 10 destroyers and frigates” during the exercises.

State broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles flew directly over Taiwan.

Japan also claimed that of the nine missiles it detected, four “were believed to have passed over Taiwan’s main island”.

Taipei’s military said it would not confirm the missiles’ trajectories to protect its intelligence capabilities and not allow China to “intimidate us.”

– “The temperature is quite high” –

China’s ruling Communist Party considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to one day take it, by force if necessary.

But the scale and intensity of the drills have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies.

“China has chosen to overreact and use the Speaker’s visit as an excuse to ramp up provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters.

“The temperature is quite high,” but tensions “can be deflated very easily just by getting the Chinese to stop these very aggressive military exercises,” he added.

Japan filed a formal diplomatic complaint against Beijing, with five of the missiles believed to have landed in its exclusive economic zone.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called China’s exercises a “serious problem affecting our national security and the security of our citizens” and called for the “immediate cancellation of the military exercises”.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the “blatant provocation” by the United States set an “egregious precedent”.

– trading places –

The maneuvers are taking place along some of the world’s busiest shipping routes, which serve to ship vital semiconductors and electronic equipment, manufactured in East Asian factory centers, to global markets.

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau has warned ships to avoid the areas used for Chinese drills.

“The closure of these transport routes — even temporarily — has consequences not only for Taiwan but also for trade flows linked to Japan and South Korea,” wrote Nick Marro, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s senior analyst for world trade, in a note.

Taiwan said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes that pass through its flight information region, while several international airlines told AFP they were rerouting flights.

But markets in Taipei appeared to shake off tensions, with the Taiwan Taiex Shipping and Transportation Index, which tracks major shipping and airline stocks, gaining 2.3 percent early Friday.

And analysts largely agree that for all its aggressive stance, Beijing doesn’t want an active military conflict against the United States and its allies over Taiwan — yet.

“The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war,” Titus Chen, associate professor of political science at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-Sen University, told AFP.

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