Dozens of Chinese planes have penetrated Taiwan’s defense zone as tensions reach a boiling point between the two countries.
Taipei’s Defense Ministry said at least 27 Chinese planes crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait – forcing the island into a stampede of planes amid fears of invasion.
Twenty-seven combat aircraft – including 16 Su-30s – crossed into the region as Taipei bolstered its defense after a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi angered Beijing.
In the latest escalation in tensions, Taiwan said it has sent aircraft and deployed missile systems to “monitor” Chinese activities in its air defense designation zone.
Taiwan’s united leaders have said they “would not be ashamed” of fighting with China if they paid for it.
“We are determined to preserve our sovereignty, our freedom and our democracy,” the country’s generals said.
“We do not fear any threats or challenges. We’re not excited about the fight, and we wouldn’t be shy about fighting it. We have the ability and will to uphold our valuable freedom and democracy, and maintain the stability of our region.”
China responded to the controversial visit by announcing days of live-fire exercises around the island.
The move will effectively close off air and sea access to Taiwan while the exercises are in progress. Airlines have been warned to avoid flying near Taiwan, and ships have been told to stay away from “danger zones” during the exercises, which are set to begin on Thursday.
Beijing has also announced sanctions against Taiwan, and a suspension of citrus products and seafood – although the ban is officially linked to hygiene concerns.
China has also stopped exporting natural sand to Taiwan, a key component of semiconductor wafer production. The Taiwan Mining Bureau later indicated that the ban would have a “limited” effect.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry accused China of “waging psychological war on its citizens,” after Pelosi angered Beijing with her historic visit to the island.
The Defense Ministry said Taiwan would “resolutely defend” its national security, declaring that the ongoing Chinese military exercises “invaded Taiwan’s territorial space” and “violated United Nations rules”.
It appears that Chinese live-fire exercises have penetrated into the territory of Taiwan, which Beijing recognizes as its territory.
Taiwan said China’s exercises – which effectively surround the country’s main island, cutting off shipping and flights – “amount to a blockade of Taiwan’s air and sea space” and “seriously violate” the island’s sovereignty.
Taiwan will increase the level of military alert on the “principle of not calling for war”.
Pelosi, the third-largest politician in the United States and second in the presidential line of succession, landed in Taiwan on Tuesday despite a growing string of blatant threats from Beijing, which views the island as its territory and said it would consider a visit a major provocation.
China responded quickly, warning the US ambassador in Beijing of “extremely serious consequences” and announcing military exercises around Taiwan.
In the face of deliberately increasing military threats, Taiwan will not back down. “We will continue to maintain the line of defense of democracy,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said at an event with Pelosi in Taipei.
Tsai thanked Ms. Pelosi for “taking concrete actions to show your strong support for Taiwan at this critical moment.”
Pelosi departed on Wednesday, but not before China fired another warning shot.
“Those who play with fire will not reach a good end, and those who offend China will be punished,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“The United States is violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy,” he added.
Pouring oil on the fire
Earlier today, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd warned that Pelosi’s visit was adding “fuel to the fire” as tensions continued between China, Taiwan and the United States.
Speaking to the BBC, Rudd sounded the alarm about the US visit and what it could mean for the region.
“The relationship between the United States and China has become bleak in recent years,” Rudd said.
Pelosi’s visit adds fuel to the fire. I doubt China is about to spark a shooting match with the United States because of that. But they will launch a set of countermeasures against Taiwan itself.”
Rudd said the region is currently facing an “unexpected moment,” leaving analysts unsure of where the tensions will lead.
We are at an unexpected moment in terms of where this will happen. I agree with the general analysis that while China will escalate its military response, it will not want to cross the line and create a fundamental crisis with the United States itself.
“Our interests collectively are to continue the status quo and allow Taiwan to continue as its own entity.”
Mr. Rudd concluded that Pelosi’s visit, in his estimation, was generally detrimental to Taiwan’s national security.
He insisted that there was a wide range of measures the US establishment could take to show support for the region, and warned that the region would likely see live-fire exercises starting in the near future.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking US official-elect to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
“Today, our delegation came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear that we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan,” she said at the event with Ms. Tsai.
Earlier, the speaker of the US House of Representatives said her group came “in friendship with Taiwan” and “at peace in the region.”
The administration of President Joe Biden said in the run-up to the visit that US policy toward Taiwan remained unchanged.
This meant supporting its government while diplomatically recognizing Beijing over Taipei, and opposing a formal declaration of independence by Taiwan or a Chinese takeover by force.
While it is understood that the White House opposed Ms Pelosi’s behind-the-scenes stop in Taiwan, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said she has the right to go wherever she wants.
China’s Vice Foreign Minister, Xie Feng, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that her visit is “extremely terrible in nature, and the consequences are very serious.”
“China will not stand idly by.”
The Chinese military said it was on “high alert” and would launch a series of targeted military operations in response to the visit.
The exercises will include “long-range live fire firing” in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China and runs through vital shipping lanes.
The Chinese exercise area will be within 20 kilometers of Taiwan’s coastline at some points, according to the coordinates released by the Chinese military.
“Some Chinese exercise areas are penetrating … the territorial waters of (Taiwan),” Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“This is an irrational step to defy the international order.”
Japan, a key US ally in the region, said on Wednesday that it had expressed concerns to China about the exercises, while South Korea called for dialogue to maintain regional peace and stability.
– With the sun and AFP
Originally published with Beijing’s response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit with days of military exercises and unofficial trade sanctions