China announces fresh military drills around Taiwan

·2-min read

China on Monday announced fresh military drills in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, amid rising concerns about the potential for conflict in the region.

The announcement came after Beijing initially said it would end military drills around the disputed island on Sunday, in a show of strength from China following the controversial visit of senior US politician Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

The latest exercises would include anti-submarine drills and sea assault operations, apparently targeting US support for Taiwan in the event of a potential invasion, China's Eastern Theatre Command said. The duration and precise location of the drills were not yet known.

Exercises over the weekend involved missile strikes, warplanes and ship movements crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing, angered over Ms Pelosi’s visit, also responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time along with suspending some lines of dialogue with Washington.

During the military drills, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones manoeuvred extensively around the island.

China maintains that Taiwan is a part of its national territory, even though the island has been self-ruled since it split from the mainland in 1949 following a civil war. Beijing has ramped up its military activities around the island this year, including flying a record number of warplanes into its airspace.

Prior to the announcement of the latest drills, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen met visiting St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Ralph Gonsalves, telling him she was moved by his determination to visit despite China’s military pressure.

“Prime minister Gonsalves has expressed in recent days that the Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan. These statements have deeply touched us,” Ms Tsai said at a welcome ceremony.

Ms Tsai has called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation" in the face of China's growing aggression.

The US says it remains committed to the “one-China” policy that extends formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing even while allowing defence ties with Taipei.

The US also heavy criticised Beijing’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling them “fundamentally irresponsible”. “There’s no need and no reason for this escalation,” she added.

US secretary of state Anthony Blinken called for a peaceful resolution between the two nations. “The differences between Taiwan and the mainland need to be resolved peacefully,” he said.

“What we’ve seen China do over the last few years is move away from a peaceful resolution of differences to doing so coercively and potentially forcefully.”