Taiwan on Saturday accused the Chinese military of simulating an attack on the island and castigated the “irresponsible behavior of an autocratic regime”, with China continuing its retaliation after the visit to Taipei of the number three American Nancy Pelosi.
Relations between the United States and China deteriorated after the visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, which was considered a “provocation” by Beijing, the United States having pledged not to have official relations with the island territory claimed by China.
Read also: For researcher Antoine Bondaz, “China has perfectly exploited Pelosi’s visit”
In response, the Chinese military is conducting its largest-ever exercises around Taiwan. They are due to last until Sunday noon and are presented as training for a “blockade” of the island.
The Taiwanese authorities have identified, until Saturday 5 p.m. (9 a.m. GMT), “20 communist planes and 14 boats carrying out joint air-sea exercises around Taiwan”, according to the Ministry of Defense. At least 14 of them crossed the median line, he added, forcing Taipei to rush patrol planes to repel the fighters.
The ministry said the drills were “considered a mock attack on the main island of Taiwan.” Drawn unilaterally by the United States during the Cold War, the median line, in the middle of the Taiwan Strait which separates the island from mainland China, has never been recognized by Beijing.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday in Manila that the United States was “determined to act responsibly” to avoid a crisis after the “total disproportion” according to him of the Chinese reaction.
China announced on Friday the “suspension” of judicial and anti-drug cooperation with the United States, but also of bilateral dialogue on climate change – among other areas. Both countries are the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases in absolute terms.
China should not “hostage” discussions on issues such as climate change because it “does not punish the United States, but the whole world”, Antony Blinken said.
Read also: The nuclear threat, from Hiroshima to Taiwan
The Chinese army published on Saturday a photo taken according to it from one of its military ships in the immediate vicinity of the coast of Taiwan, and where we see a Taiwanese navy building only a few hundred meters away. This shot may be the closest to the Taiwanese coastline ever taken by mainland Chinese forces. The Chinese military has also released video of one of its fighter pilots showing the coastline and mountains of Taiwan from its cockpit in full flight.
Call to democracies
These exercises are a warning sent to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, from an independence party, and to the United States, accused by Beijing of having “betrayed” their word by strengthening their relations with the Taiwanese authorities in recent years. .
China has also announced new “real-fire” maneuvers from Saturday until August 15 in a small maritime area very close to the Chinese port of Lianyungang (east), on the edge of the Yellow Sea which separates China of the Korean peninsula. According to Chinese state television CCTV, missiles flew over Taiwan this week during exercises around the island – which would be a first.
Read also: China taunts Taiwan, but opinions are divided on its ability to act militarily
The Mainland Affairs Council, the body which in Taipei manages relations with mainland China, denounced Beijing’s “brutal and deplorable actions” on Saturday. “We call on all of our democratic partners around the world to continue to support Taiwan and to counter the irresponsible behavior of an autocratic regime that undermines peace with its military adventurism,” he said.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday called on Beijing to “immediately stop raising tension and carrying out provocative actions aimed at intimidating the Taiwanese people.”
After criticism from the G7 and the United States, Antony Blinken and his Japanese and Australian counterparts issued a joint statement calling on China to stop its military exercises.
“Very bad pass”
Beijing’s decision to suspend climate dialogue with Washington is also causing concern. “It is impossible to tackle the climate emergency if the two main economies and the two largest emitters do not act,” lamented Alden Meyer, an analyst at the E3G think tank, specializing in climate change.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that “it is impossible to solve the world’s most pressing problems without effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries”, according to his spokesman.
To continue reading: Taking Putin’s example, Chinese nationalists urge Beijing to action against Taiwan
The deterioration in Beijing-Washington relations could be long-lasting, experts also note. They are “currently in a very bad patch,” says Bonnie Glaser, China specialist at the German Marshall Fund of the United States research center in Washington. She cites as “particularly worrying” the suspension of cooperation agreements, such as that on maritime military cooperation aimed precisely at preserving escalation.
Most analysts agree, however, that Beijing does not want an armed confrontation for the moment.