TAIPEI: Taiwan accused the Chinese army of simulating an attack on its main island on Saturday (Aug 6), as Beijing continued its retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Relations between the two superpowers nosedived in the wake of Pelosi’s trip to China’s self-ruled neighbour – which it claims as its territory – prompting calls from the UN for urgent de-escalation of tensions.
Beijing maintained some of its largest military drills around Taiwan on Saturday – exercises aimed at practising a blockade and ultimate invasion of the island, analysts say.
Taipei said it observed “multiple batches” of Chinese planes and ships operating in the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed a demarcation line that divides the strait, but which Beijing does not recognise.
“They were judged to be conducting a simulation of an attack on Taiwan’s main island,” it said.
In response, the democratic island’s military mobilised air and land patrols and deployed land-based missile systems, the ministry said.
As of 5pm local time, Taiwan’s army said “20 Communist planes and 14 ships were detected in the waters around Taiwan conducting joint air-sea exercises”.
At least 14 of them crossed the median line, it said, forcing Taipei to scramble patrol planes to ward off the jets.
Taiwan’s army released images on Saturday of a sailor on one of its frigates monitoring a Chinese ship within touching distance alongside the caption: “Absolutely not photoshopped!”
It also showed soldiers activating its land-based missile systems to track the Chinese planes.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, meeting with his Philippine counterpart on Saturday, said Washington was “determined to act responsibly” to avoid a major global crisis.
The environment became the latest victim of the geopolitical jousting a day earlier, as Beijing said it would withdraw from a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington – most notably on climate change and defence cooperation.
China should not hold talks on issues of global concern such as climate change “hostage”, Blinken said, as it “doesn’t punish the United States, it punishes the world”.