China’s largest-ever military drill around Taiwan was coming to an end on Sunday after a controversial visit last week to the self-governing island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Beijing has raged over Pelosi’s trip – the second in line to the US presidency – tearing up a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington, including on climate change and defence.
It has also deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles around Taiwan in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the island.
These exercises were due to end on Sunday, although Beijing announced new exercises in the Yellow Sea – located between China and the Korean peninsula – which would run until August 15.
Taiwan’s transport ministry said six of the seven “temporary danger zones” that China had warned airlines should avoid had ceased to be in effect as of noon on Sunday, signaling a reduction in drills.
He said the seventh zone, in waters east of Taiwan, would remain in effect until 10 a.m. (0200 GMT) local time Monday.
“Affected flights and crossings may gradually resume,” the ministry said in a statement.
Taipei said some routes were still affected in the seventh zone and authorities would continue to monitor vessel movements there.
Earlier on Sunday, Beijing conducted “joint practical exercises in the sea and airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan as planned”, the Chinese military’s Eastern Command said.
The drills focused “on testing joint firepower on the ground and long-range air strike capabilities”, he added.
The Taipei Defense Ministry also confirmed that China had sent “planes, ships and drones” around the Taiwan Strait, “simulating attacks on the main island of Taiwan and on ships in our waters”. .
Beijing has also sent drones over Taiwan’s outer islands, he added.
In response, the Democratic Island said it had mobilized a “joint intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance system to closely monitor the enemy situation” as well as dispatching aircraft and ships.
Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan’s prime minister, said China was “barbarically using military action” to disrupt the peace in the Taiwan Strait.
“We call on the Chinese government not to walk around wielding its military might, flexing its muscles everywhere and jeopardizing the peace of the region,” he told reporters on Sunday.
China’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment on the expected conclusion of the drills on Sunday.
“A Dangerous Opponent”
To show how close Chinese forces have come to Taiwan’s shores, Beijing’s military released video of an Air Force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit. .
And the Chinese military’s Eastern Command has shared a photo it says was taken of a warship patrolling the seas near Taiwan with the island’s coastline visible in the background.
The exercises also saw Beijing fire ballistic missiles over the Taiwanese capital, according to Chinese state media.
Taipei has remained defiant throughout China’s slashing, insisting it will not be bullied by its “evil neighbour”.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday urged Beijing to “immediately stop raising tensions and taking provocative actions to intimidate the Taiwanese people.”
But experts have warned that the drills reveal an increasingly emboldened Chinese military capable of carrying out a grueling blockade of the self-governing island and preventing US forces from coming to its aid.
“In some areas, the PLA could even exceed American capabilities,” Grant Newsham, a researcher at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies and a former US Navy officer, told AFP, referring to the Chinese military by name. official.
“If the battle is confined to the area just around Taiwan, today’s Chinese navy is a dangerous adversary – and if the Americans and Japanese don’t intervene for whatever reason, things would be tough for Taiwan. .”
“Punish the World”
The scale and intensity of the Chinese drills – as well as Beijing’s withdrawal from key climate and defense talks – have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, met by his Philippine counterpart on Saturday, said Washington was “determined to act responsibly” to avoid a major global crisis.
China should not hold talks on issues of global concern such as climate change “hostage”, Blinken said, because it is “not punishing the United States, it is punishing the world”.
The United Nations has also urged the two superpowers to continue working together.
“For the secretary general, there is no way to solve the most pressing problems of the whole world without effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries,” said his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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