Taiwan has accused the Chinese military of simulating an attack on the main island, while Beijing has continued to retaliate for Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Beijing continued on Saturday some of its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan — exercises seen as exercise for a blockade and eventual invasion of the island.
Taipei said it has observed “several” Chinese planes and ships in the Taiwan Strait, assuming they are simulating an attack on the main island of the self-governed democracy.
“Multiple batches of communist planes and ships are conducting operations around the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the median line,” the defense ministry said, citing an unofficial demarcation line that runs through the Taiwan Strait that Beijing does not recognize.
Beijing said it would hold an exercise from Saturday to August 15 in a southern part of the Yellow Sea — located between China and the Korean peninsula.
China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, has reported that Chinese missiles flew directly over Taiwan during the exercises – a major escalation if confirmed.
Taipei has remained defiant, insisting that it will not be intimidated by its “bad neighbor.”
The scale and intensity of China’s exercises have sparked outrage in the US and other democracies, with the White House on Friday summoning the Chinese ambassador to Washington to reprimand him over Beijing’s actions.
Relations between the two superpowers have slumped after the US House speaker’s trip to self-governed Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.
Beijing’s retaliatory decision to pull out of its hard-won cooperation on climate change sparked greater fears about the planet’s future. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the decision was “fundamentally irresponsible”.
“They’re actually punishing the whole world, because the climate crisis knows no geographic boundaries and boundaries,” Kirby said.
“The world’s largest emitter is now refusing to take critical steps needed to fight the climate crisis.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the two superpowers must continue to work together for the sake of the world.
“For the Secretary General, there is no way to solve the world’s most pressing problems without effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries,” said Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
But as tensions over Taiwan have risen to their highest levels in nearly 30 years with an increased risk of military conflict, experts told AFP that the latest deterioration in relations between the two superpowers could be deep and protracted.
“The relationship is very bad at the moment,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the German Marshall Fund.
Friday’s suspension of bilateral military and maritime dialogue as China continues its military exercises was “particularly concerning,” she said.
“We don’t know what else they’ll do,” she said. “We just don’t know if this is just a temporary thing.”
John Culver, a former CIA Asia analyst, said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies that Beijing’s main goal with its military exercises was to change that status quo.
“I think this is the new normal,” Culver said. “The Chinese want to show… that a line has been crossed by the speaker’s visit.”