China scheduled the four-day military exercise to begin the day after United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi concluded her whirlwind visit to Taiwan, which lasted less than 24 hours. They are expected to last until 12 noon local time on Aug. 7. (Related: ANALYSIS: Why China LOSES any escalation involving Taiwan and the United States Navy.)
Pelosi is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Her visit included a meeting with high-ranking state officials, an appearance at the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, and another meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.
Chinese state media reported that the exercise will be conducted in six major maritime areas surrounding Taiwan, with the closest being within 12 miles of the Taiwanese coast. During the period of the exercises, China warned ships and aircraft from entering the relevant sea areas and airspace.
The Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense reported chasing off several Chinese navy ships that had crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait. The ministry also reported 27 Chinese fighter jets violating Taiwanese airspace.
Major Gen. Meng Xiangqing told state television that the PLA also launched missiles over Taiwan, marking the first time that China has done so. He said the arc passed over an area where Taiwan stations U.S.-supplied MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries.
America watching Chinese military drills “very closely”
In an interview with MSNBC, John Kirby, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, said the White House is watching China’s live-fire exercises “very, very closely.”
“It’s concerning. It’s not just concerning to us, but it’s concerning, of course, to the people of Taiwan. It’s concerning to our allies in the region, especially Japan,” said Kirby.
Five of the missiles the PLA fired landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, or within 200 nautical miles of the Yaeyama Islands, which have over 50,000 Japanese residents and are less than 100 miles from Taiwan’s western coast.
“This is a grave problem affecting the safety of our people,” said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. “I strongly protest.”
When asked about Beijing claiming that Pelosi’s trip is what provoked the Chinese response, Kirby responded: “The provocateur here is Beijing. They didn’t have to react this way to what is completely normal travel by congressional members to Taiwan. The Chinese are the ones who are escalating this.”
In a press conference at the White House, Kirby noted that America’s policies regarding Taiwan have not changed.
He said Beijing’s “provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait” will not deter the U.S. from its security commitments in the region, and that the U.S. Armed Forces would conduct “standard air and maritime patrols” through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks in line with longstanding operations.
“One of the things that’s troublesome about exercises like this or missile launches like this is the risk of calculation, the risk of a mistake that could actually lead to some sort of conflict,” said Kirby.
Learn more about China’s latest actions in CommunistChina.news.
Watch this clip of “Gravitas” on WION as host Palki Sharma Upadhyay discusses China’s retaliation to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit.
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