TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Chinese military announced new military exercises in the waters and airspace around Taiwan on Monday, a day after its largest-ever drill was scheduled to end in protest against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week. Visit Taipei.
China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would hold joint exercises focused on anti-submarine and maritime assault operations, confirming concerns among some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to pressure Taiwan’s defenses.
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week angered China, which treats the self-governing island as its own, tested a ballistic missile over Taipei for the first time, and abandoned some lines of dialogue with Washington.
The duration and exact location of the latest drills are unclear, but Taiwan has eased flight restrictions around the area of six earlier Chinese drills around the island.
Shortly before the latest drills were announced, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met visiting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, telling him she was moved by his determination to visit despite Chinese military pressure.
“In recent days, Prime Minister Gonsalves has said that China’s military exercises will not prevent his friends from visiting Taiwan. We are deeply moved by these remarks,” Tsai Ing-wen said at a welcome ceremony for Goncalves in Taipei Say.
It is unclear whether Tsai Ing-wen invited Goncalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. “We do not disclose internal plans or communications between governments,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said when asked by Reuters.
In addition to firing 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the first four days of the exercise, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones also conducted extensive maneuvers around the island.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Chinese warships, planes and drones carried out simulated attacks on Taiwan and its navy. It said it had dispatched aircraft and ships to respond “appropriately”.
Meanwhile, China’s Defense Ministry maintained diplomatic pressure on the United States, defending its shelving of military-to-military talks in protest of Pelosi’s visit.
“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is entirely provocative and created by the U.S. side, and the U.S. side must take full responsibility and serious consequences for this,” Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in an online post.
“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.
After Pelosi left the region on Friday, China called off formal talks involving theater commands, defense policy coordination and maritime military consultations.
Pentagon, State Department and White House officials condemned the move, calling it an irresponsible overreaction.
Security analysts and diplomats say China has cut off a handful of communications with the U.S. military, raising the risk of an accidental escalation of the Taiwan issue at a critical juncture.
A U.S. official noted that Chinese officials did not respond to calls from senior Pentagon officials amid the tensions last week, but they did not see it as a formal severance of ties with senior officials such as U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Asked directly about the reports, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu said, “China’s countermeasures are a necessary warning against provocations by the U.S. and Taiwan, and a legitimate defense of national sovereignty and security.”