Taiwan lambasted its “malicious neighbor” on Friday on the second day of China’s biggest ever military exercises around the island, oblivious to outraged protests from the United States and its allies.
Beijing on Thursday fired ballistic missiles and deployed its air force and navy in six maritime zones around Taiwan, approaching up to 20 km from the coast and disrupting some of the world’s busiest trade routes, to express its anger. after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Communist China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory, saw the visit as a major provocation. Washington for its part accused the Chinese government of having overreacted.
The exercises, including a “conventional missile assault” in waters east of Taiwan according to the Chinese Ministry of Defense, are to continue until noon Sunday. On Friday, Taipei said that many “planes and warships” had crossed the “median line” of the Strait of Taipei, which separates the island from the mainland, at the end of the morning.
According to the official New China news agency, the People’s Liberation Army “flew more than 100 warplanes, including fighters and bombers”, as well as “more than ten destroyers and frigates” on Thursday. State broadcaster CCTV claimed that Chinese missiles even flew over Taiwan for the first time.
Missiles over Taiwan
The Taiwanese government told him that the Chinese army had launched 11 Donfeng-class ballistic missiles “in several bursts”. Japan counted nine, four of which “would have flown over the main island of Taiwan”.
The Taipei Defense Ministry, however, did not confirm the trajectory of the projectiles, “considering that the main purpose of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) launch of missiles is to intimidate us and in order to protect the capabilities intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance of the army,” according to a press release.
“We didn’t expect the malevolent neighbor to flaunt its power at our doorstep, and arbitrarily endanger the world’s busiest waterways with its military exercises,” Taiwan’s premier told reporters. Su Tseng-chang.
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Washington accused Beijing of having “chosen to overreact” to Nancy Pelosi’s visit, and warned that its aircraft carrier USS Reagan would continue to “monitor” the surroundings of the island, while announcing that it had postponed an intercontinental missile test. to avoid aggravating the crisis.
China “used the visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives as a pretext to increase its provocative military operations in and around the Taiwan Strait”, said White House spokesman for strategic affairs John Kirby. “The temperature is quite high,” but tensions “can drop very easily if the Chinese stop these very aggressive military exercises,” he said.
Japan expressed a formal diplomatic protest against Beijing, believing that five of the Chinese missiles fell inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ). These maneuvers are “a serious problem which affects our national security and that of our citizens”, declared Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. “We call for the immediate cessation of military exercises.”
In Tokyo, the last stage of her eventful Asian tour, Nancy Pelosi affirmed that the United States “will not allow” China to isolate Taiwan. This tour of the region “was not about changing the status quo here in Asia, changing the status quo in Taiwan,” she said.
But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Phnom Penh on the sidelines of a regional summit on Thursday that the “blatant provocation” by the United States had set an “unfortunate precedent”. “If it is not corrected and countered, will the principle of non-interference in internal affairs still exist? Will international law always be respected? he said, according to New China.
The maneuvers encroach on some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, through which essential electronic equipment from factories in East Asia is shipped to global markets.
Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau has warned ships passing through this area and several international airlines have said they will reroute their flights to avoid the airspace around the island.
“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 in a note Nick Marro, senior global trade analyst. of the Economist Intelligence Unit.
But Taipei markets appeared to ignore the tensions. Taiwan’s Taiex Shipping and Transportation Index, which tracks major maritime and air transport stocks, gained 2.3% on Friday morning. Analysts agree that, despite its aggressive attitude, Beijing does not currently want an armed confrontation with the United States and its allies over Taiwan.
“The last thing Xi wants is the outbreak of an accidental war,” said Titus Chen, associate professor of political science at National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.