Taiwan maneuvers, says China seeks to control the sea

PINGTUNG, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan said Tuesday that China is using military drills to rehearse an invasion of the island, as the Taiwanese military launched its own live-fire drills in a show of preparation for a possible attack.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Beijing aspires to dominate the Western Pacific and annex Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory. That would include controlling the East and South China Seas through the Taiwan Strait and preventing the United States and its allies from helping Taiwan, he told a news conference in Taipei.

China said its moves were in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week. However, Wu claimed that China was using the trip as an excuse for pre-arranged intimidating gestures. China also banned some Taiwanese food imports after the visit and broke off talks with the United States on everything from military contacts to fighting transnational crime and climate change.

Pelosi called the Chinese rhetoric a public relations stunt. In an interview with the “Today” program on the NBC channel, the US legislator pointed out that “nobody said a single word” when a Senate delegation went to Taiwan a few months ago. Later on the MSNBC channel, Pelosi denounced that Chinese President Xi Jinping was acting “like a frightened aggressor.”

“I don’t think the president of China should be controlling the travel schedules of US lawmakers,” Pelosi said.

The United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan out of deference to Beijing, but it does have a legal obligation to ensure the island can defend itself and to treat all threats against it – including a blockade – as a matter of grave concern. That leaves open the question of whether Washington would send forces if China attacked Taiwan. US President Joe Biden has reiterated that the United States is obliged to do so, statements that were quickly rectified by his team.

Since Thursday, China has sent military ships and planes across the center line of the Taiwan Strait and launched missiles into waters around the island. Beijing ignored calls to de-escalate tensions and has extended the lockdown-equivalent exercises without announcing when they will end.

The drills have affected air and sea traffic in one of the busiest areas of global commerce. Taiwan has put its forces on alert, but for now has avoided taking countermeasures.

On Tuesday, it held live ammunition exercises in Pingtung County, on its southeast coast.

Taiwan, a former Japanese colony with only tenuous ties to imperial China, seceded during a civil war in 1949. Although it has never ruled the island, China’s ruling Communist Party considers it part of its territory and has tried to isolate it from the outside world. diplomatic and economic as well as increasing its military threats.

Taiwan is a crucial supplier of processors to the global economy, including the Chinese technology sector. A continued crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a major transit point for global trade, could have serious consequences for international supply chains at a time of global uncertainty and unforeseen events.

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