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China launches military exercises around Taiwan after Pelosi visit

CHINA carried out “precision strikes” in the waters around Taiwan today in the biggest military manoeuvres in decades in response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

The US Speaker of the House of Representatives remained tight lipped about the crisis she had precipitated as she proceeded to South Korea, where President Yoon Suk Yol declined to meet her, going to the theatre instead — thought to be a rebuke for a stunt that could have sparked a Pacific war.

China said exercises were underway in six zones around Taiwan, including hypersonic and conventional missile launches. The Xinhua News Agency said joint naval and air force operations focused on “blockade, sea target assault, strikes on ground targets and airspace control,” while Taiwanese military specialists said the exercises were aimed at demonstrating the mainland’s ability to blockade and land troops on Taiwan. 

“If the People’s Liberation Army” (China’s armed forces, formally the armed wing of the Communist Party) “actually invades Taiwan, the concrete actions it will take are all in this particular exercise,” Taiwan’s National Defence University professor Ma Chenkun said.

Chinese forces are surrounding the island on all sides to show Beijing’s “complete control of the Taiwan question,” according to Chinese media, which also reported plans to move troops within 12 nautical miles of the Taiwanese coast. The exercises will continue until Sunday, though military chiefs said they could become routine if the US and Taiwanese authorities continue provoking Beijing.

The 10-nation Association of South-east Asian Nations, meeting in Pnomh Penh, called for restraint from all sides and avoidance of “serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

On Taiwan, most citizens remained calm. Lu Chuan-hsiong, who was questioned by reporters as he took his morning swim, said: “Chinese and Taiwanese, we’re all one family. There are lots of mainlanders here.”

The drills are believed to be the first time China has fired missiles directly over the island, which it sees as a breakaway province. Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, has governed itself since communist revolution swept the mainland in 1949, and is recognised as Chinese territory by most governments including that of the US. By the “one China” policy, governments around the world may recognise the Beijing or Taipei administrations as the Chinese government but cannot have formal diplomatic relations with both.

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