Taiwan stayed defiant this wednesday vs threats from Chinese military maneuvers off its shores following the visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic lawmaker visited Taiwanese soil on Tuesday despite threats from Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory.
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The Chinese government considers Pelosi’s visit a “violation of its sovereignty” and announced that a series of military maneuvers began today with “long-range live ammunition firing” in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China.
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“The United States is violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of so-called ‘democracy’ (…). Those who insult China will be punished,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.
Taiwanese authorities indicated that during the The 27th Chinese military aircraft they had entered its air defense zone (extensive of a country’s airspace).
But Taipei showed no signs of flinching. “In the face of increasing and deliberate military threats, Taiwan will not back down… We will hold the line of defense of democracy,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said.
Pelosi’s visit countered Chinese attempts to isolate the island. “Our delegation (…) came to Taiwan to show clearly, unequivocally, that we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and that we are proud of our enduring friendship,” Pelos said during a ceremony with the Taiwanese president.
Before leaving Taiwan for South Korea, Pelosi met with Chinese dissidents, including Wuer Kaixi, one of the student leaders of the bloody pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
The truth is that the United States expects an escalation of tensions with China. Indeed, Washington insisted on Wednesday that it saw no reason for Beijing to turn Pelosi’s trip into a “crisis.”
Throughout, Joe Biden’s administration has sought to distance itself from the visit and has emphasized that it was a personal decision by Pelosi, the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in a quarter century.
The executive director of the Global Taiwan Institute think tank, Russell Hsiao, told Efe that the White House apparently did everything possible to discourage Pelosi from going to Taiwan, in light of the public disagreement and official statements about the concern of the United States armed forces . Cheers to this trip.
“Basically, it’s a decision of the president (of the lower house), and I think President Biden respected the basic principle of the political system of the United States, the separation of powers,” he said.
Asia expert Thomas Shattuck of the Foreign Policy Research Institute said that when a member of Congress makes this type of trip, he usually has the support of the armed forces in terms of transportation and logistics.
In the face of increasing and deliberate military threats, Taiwan will not back down (…). We will hold the line of defense
Therefore, he concluded, “there was coordination, given that she took a military aircraft and the president is commander in chief. But beyond that, it’s very clear that the administration is not very happy with its decision.
On how to interpret China’s military maneuvers, Taiwanese historian James Lin, a professor at the University of Washington, predicted that Beijing’s retaliation is likely to continue in the coming days and weeks as it has only increased “his nationalist theatrical skills” for its domestic and foreign audiences. However, Lin noted that it was “possible” that China would apply the penalty only to Taiwan and not to the United States.
Shattuck said he was “100 percent” sure there would be an escalation of tensions between the two major international powers, making the Indo-Pacific region more “volatile.”
According to him, China’s military maneuvers today are “a very provocative measure”. These exercises, he added, suggest that there will be ships that will have to be diverted to avoid the Taiwan Strait because it is not known what will happen.
For its part, Taiwan’s defense ministry said the drills violated the island’s territorial waters and condemned “an irrational act that goes against international order.” Meanwhile, the G7 said that “there is no justification for using this visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Strait”.
For now, the United States has several warships in the area: A spokeswoman for the United States Pacific Fleet told Efe on Tuesday that the country has the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier battle group and the USS amphibious assault ship near Taiwan, Tripoli.
On other fronts, Beijing’s Ministry of Commerce also announced economic sanctions, including a freeze on exports to Taiwan of natural sand, a key component in semiconductor manufacturing, one of the island’s main exports. And the Chinese customs administration canceled the import of fruits and some fish from Taiwan.
AFP and EFE