There is the promised answer. China’s army will conduct its largest military exercise in decades around Taiwan on Thursday, a strong response to the visit of American congressional leader Nancy Pelosi to the island.
Beijing launched from Thursday at noon (6:00 am, Paris time) a number of military exercises in several areas around the island of Taiwan, at the level of busy trade routes.
This includes “training activities, including live ammunition firing drills”, according to state media. As a security measure, the China Maritime Security Administration has “banned” ships from entering the affected areas. These drills will take place in various areas surrounding Taiwan – sometimes as little as 20 kilometers off Taiwan’s coast – and will last until noon on Sunday.
Authorities on the island have criticized the program, saying it threatens security in East Asia. “Some of China’s maneuvering areas encroach on (…) Taiwan’s territorial waters,” said Sun Li-fang, spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense. “This is an unjustified act aimed at challenging the international order,” he said.
“There is no reason to use the visit as a pretext for aggressive military activities in the Taiwan Strait”, estimated for their part the heads of diplomacy of the G7 rich countries (United States, Japan, France, Germany , Italy, Canada. , UK) in a joint statement. “Traveling abroad is normal and part of the routine for parliamentarians in our countries,” they added.
Beijing said for its part that these exercises – as well as others, which are more limited, started in recent days – are a “necessary and legitimate step” after the visit of Nancy Pelosi. “The United States is the provocateurs, and China is the victim. China is in self-defense,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.
Beijing does not want “uncontrolled escalation”
If the assumption of an invasion of Taiwan, home to 23 million inhabitants, remains unlikely, it has increased since the election in 2016 of the current president Tsai Ing-wen. From an independence party, Tsai refused, unlike the previous government, to recognize that the island and the continent are part of “one China”.
Visits by foreign officials and parliamentarians have also increased in recent years, provoking anger in Beijing. In response, President Xi Jinping’s China, which wants to remain untouched by sovereignty questions, sought to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and increased military pressure on the island, three months before the Communist Party Congress in China should renew Xi Jinping for a third term. However, China has no desire for the current situation to deteriorate, experts told AFP.
“They are cautious and don’t want any uncontrolled development,” Chong Ja Ian, a security specialist at the National University of Singapore, told AFP. “There are limits to what they want to do.” “An accidental war” caused by an incident “is the last thing Xi Jinping wants” before the CCP congress, said Titus Chen, professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan.