The Chair of the US House of Representatives has ended her visit to Taiwan - and is traveling on to South Korea. Taiwan fears a blockade given China's maneuvers.
US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has left Taiwan. After a visit overshadowed by tensions with China, she traveled to South Korea with a delegation from the US Congress. Next stops on her Asia trip are Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Despite Chinese warnings, Pelosi traveled to Taiwan on Tuesday. The government in Beijing sees the democratic country as part of the People's Republic and strictly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei. In response, China's military launched target practice maneuvers in six sea areas surrounding Taiwan.
Taiwan fears blockade
After the visit of the top US politician to Taiwan, China also issued the first economic sanctions against the island. Taiwan now fears a sea and air blockade as a result of China's announced maneuvers around the democratic island republic. According to the CNA news agency, the Taiwanese military also spoke of a "serious violation" of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and a violation of the country's sovereignty.
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Taiwan's transport ministry has already consulted with Japan and the Philippines to determine alternative shipping routes while the maneuvers are held. Consultations were also held with Taiwan's aviation and maritime authorities on how to react. The controversial visit by the chairmen of the US House of Representatives will also be a topic at the foreign ministers' meeting of the Asean countries in Cambodia - and will probably overshadow the deliberations. The multi-day talks of the Southeast Asian community of states begin this Wednesday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will also attend. The meeting is an opportunity to calm the tense situation, said Cambodian Deputy Foreign Minister Kung Phoak.
On Weibo, the Chinese brother of Twitter, there were 16 million people who followed the live broadcast of Nancy Pelosi 's landing in Taiwan on Tuesday night . The last coverage on the platform that reached that audience also featured a woman on board a plane arriving in Mandarin-speaking territory: Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's chief financial officer, arrived at Shenzhen airport on September 25, 2021 after to spend three years under house arrest in Canada at the request of the United States.
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The reaction on Chinese networks to the two events could not have been more disparate. Meng was the hero coming home, while Pelosi has been the villain seeking to provoke China to unleash its full artillery on Taiwan long before planned in Beijing's corridors of power. An invasion - reunification they call it in the Asian giant - that would be highly celebrated by that growing mass of nationalist Internet users who cheer every warmongering message from their leaders.
There are many Chinese for whom international politics slips until it comes to the issue of Taiwan, their Taiwan, the separatist island, seen as one more province that has to be under the total control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) despite enjoying a healthy and young democracy , in addition to an effective government propaganda that has been playing for years with the fear of that attack from the neighbor upstairs, causing increasing friction between the Taiwanese and the Chinese. On both sides of the strait, politicians have been reciting their version of the classic Peter and the Wolf for years. But right now the Chinese wolf is fiercer and more pissed off than ever before.
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Pelosi, president of the United States House of Representatives, an 82-year-old veteran Democrat and an old woman known in China for her attacks against the regime led by Xi Jinping, has sold her visit to Taiwan as a trip to defend democracy and freedom. Although a large part of international analysts question whether her trip makes any sense in addition to angering Beijing and causing a fourth crisis in the Taiwan Strait, starring the two current world superpowers.
Pelosi met on Wednesday morning with the leader of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, an independentista court, who has been president since 2016 and who has always opposed the old proposal of the neighbor from above: the formula of "one country, two systems", the format that was established in Hong Kong, according to which the island would have significant autonomy if it accepts reunification, although it would be subject to the yoke of the Chinese regime as has happened in the former British colony.
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"In the face of growing and deliberate military threats, Taiwan will not back down (...) We will maintain the line of defense of democracy," Tsai said after her meeting with Pelosi, who reiterated to the Taiwanese leader the US commitment to the security of Taiwan. Taiwan. Pelosi, accompanied by an entourage of five congressmen, left the island in the middle of the afternoon to continue with an Asian tour that will take her to Japan and South Korea.
"Our delegation came to make it unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan and we are proud of our enduring friendship," said Pelosi, the highest-ranking US politician to set foot on Taiwan since her Republican predecessor, Newt Gingrich, did so in 1997. The Democrat, faced with several warnings from Beijing for "violating its sovereignty", wanted to point out the day before that her trip "in no way contradicts the long-standing policy of the United States, guided by the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979" . But in the midst of a new Cold War between the two superpowers, China is convinced that Washington is moving in the direction of breaking its traditional ambiguous position, under which it maintains relations with Taiwan while recognizing Beijing's position: there is only a Chinese government in all Mandarin-speaking territory.
Military Maneuvers In Taiwan Strait
In conversations with this newspaper, two officials from the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense assure that Taiwanese citizens are calm and that Wednesday has been a normal day despite the fact that the Chinese military "threatens to be prepared to attack us." They assure that they have alerted the levels of and that, as President Tsai has also said, the island's defenses will be strengthened these days. When asking the other protagonist of the crisis, the sources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China follow the official response line. "The United States has intruded on Taiwan's sovereignty and has clearly violated the one-China principle. We have been warning Washington for weeks not to cross that line and have chosen to defy the entire Chinese people. Our responses will be consistent with their provocation," replies a Beijing official.
China has been trying for years to diplomatically isolate the autonomous island, pulling investments to buy the friendship of the small nations of the world that defended Taiwan's sovereignty. Now there are only 14 countries left that maintain formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. And among them there is no first world sword, not even the US, its main international promoter and supplier of weapons. Even so, from Beijing they have understood Pelosi's trip as direct support for Taiwan's independence. And that, in the language used within the Chinese dictatorship, means crossing a red line that deserves an armed response not seen in the previous crisis of 1996.
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Pelosi landed in Taipei despite repeated warnings from Beijing that her visit could trigger an unprecedented crisis in the Taiwan Strait, to the point of triggering a military conflict . Just as the US plane landed escorted by Taiwanese fighters, Chinese state media announced that a Chinese Su-35 fighter jet had crossed the median line dividing the strait for 20 minutes. Almost at dawn, the Chinese Ministry of Defense assured that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) would launch "a series of military operations aimed at countering Pelosi's visit to the island of Taiwan and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity".
Those operations consist of live - fire combat simulations at six different locations around Taiwan. The simulated attacks began at dawn. "Joint air force and naval exercises are underway skirting the island's coastline and airspace to the north, southwest and southeast," a Chinese military spokesman said. The response consisted of long-distance artillery fire as well as missile test fire in the waters to the east of the island . The PLA also circled the island flying over J-20 fighters.
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"This action is a solemn deterrent against the recent great escalation of negative actions by the United States on the Taiwan issue, and a serious warning to Taiwanese forces seeking independence," said Colonel Shi Yi , spokesman for the Theater Command. of the PLA, the section of the Chinese army that oversees the Taiwan Strait, which was the one that demarcated six no-entry zones around the island for civilian ships and planes, warning that it could carry out "major military exercises with live fire." real" until next Sunday.
"The island of Taiwan will be surrounded by exercises in various directions. Joint air and sea exercises in the north, southwest and southeast will likely hone the capabilities of warplanes and warships to gain air superiority and control of the sea," it explained. a publication of the Global Times newspaper, one of the propaganda organs of the Chinese Government published in English. "Long-range real fire into the Taiwan Strait will likely feature multiple rocket launchers that can hit targets on the island of Taiwan directly from the mainland; test launches of missiles used to the east of the island mean that if the Los missiles were launched from the mainland, they would fly over Taiwan," he continued.
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"China's planned military exercises, some of which fall within 12 nautical miles of Taiwan, violated United Nations regulations, invaded our territorial space, and amounted to a blockade of its air and sea," reads a note released. by the island's Defense Ministry, which condemned Beijing for "organizing war games" around the island, saying it will only sabotage peace and stability in the region. "Such a move will not help China's international image, but it will also hurt the feelings of people on both sides of the strait," defense spokesman Sun Li-fang said.
On Wednesday morning, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted that Pelosi's visit "maliciously violated China's sovereignty" and that the United States once again showed that it was the "greatest destroyer of peace and regional stability. Wang issued a warning to his rival: "Those who offend China will be punished." Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Beijing Taiwan Affairs Office, also spoke : "We warn Tsai Ing-wen that collusion with external forces to carry out provocations of independence for personal and party gain will only hasten its own destruction and push Taiwan to the abyss of disaster".
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Another notable military move by Beijing was to send 21 fighter jets to Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday, which has reported nearly 500 raids on its ADIZ so far this year, which it is not their airspace, but an area outside the country's territory, but where foreign aircraft identify themselves to be monitored. don't.
Taiwan's ADIZ covers parts of mainland China, but authorities on the island do not report incursions until after planes have crossed their side of the median line separating the strait. Last year there was a record 969 raids, more than double the 380 in 2020. In addition to military exercises around the island, Beijing has announced economic sanctions on Taiwanese agricultural products and natural sand imports as part of a first package of trade restrictions - China is Taiwan's largest trading partner, with bilateral trade of $328.3 billion last year - in response to Pelosi's controversial trip.
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