Beijing launches 'unprecedented' maneuvers around Taiwan

P&eacute ;kin launches “unprecedented” maneuvers around Taiwan

Chinese helicopters near Pintgan Island, one of the closest points to Taiwan

The Chinese military begins Thursday the most major military maneuvers in its history around Taiwan, a heavy-handed response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island.

While her trip to the Chinese-claimed territory lasted less than 24 hours, Pelosi sparked Beijing's fury as the highest elected US official to visit Taipei in 25 years.

She hammered that the United States would not abandon the island, ruled by a democratic regime and which lives under the constant threat of invasion by the Chinese army.

Those who offend China will have to be punished, ineluctably , retorted, remotely, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.

In response, Beijing is launching major military exercises from noon Thursday local time in several areas around Taiwan, at busy trade routes.

According to the Global Times newspaper, which quotes military analysts, the drills are on an unprecedented scale, as missiles will fly over Taiwan for the first time.

This is the first time the Chinese military will launch live ammunition and long-range artillery fire over the Taiwan Strait , underlines the daily.

As a security measure, the Chinese Maritime Security Administration has banned ships from entering the relevant areas.

These drills will take place in a variety of areas encircling Taiwan – sometimes as little as 20 kilometers off the Taiwanese coast – and will last until noon Sunday.

If Taiwanese forces voluntarily come into contact with [the Chinese army] and accidentally fire a shot, [the Chinese army] will retaliate vigorously and it will be up to the Taiwanese side to bear all the consequences, an anonymous military source in the Chinese army told AFP.

Authorities on the island have denounced the program, saying it threatens East Asian security.

Some of the areas of China's maneuvers encroach on […] Taiwan's territorial waters, said Sun Li-fang, the spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense , castigating an irrational act aimed at challenging the international order.

For Beijing, these exercises – along with other, more limited ones started in recent days – are a necessary and legitimate measure after Ms. Pelosi's visit.

It is the United States that is the provocateurs, and China that is the victim. China is in self-defense, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters.

The drills aim to simulate a blockade of the island and include assaulting targets at sea, striking targets on the ground and controlling airspace, the official agency said. New China.

If the hypothesis of an invasion of Taiwan, populated by 23 million inhabitants, remains unlikely, it has increased since the #x27;Election in 2016 of current President Tsai Ing-wen.

Coming from an independence party, Ms. Tsai refuses, unlike the previous government, to recognize that the island and the mainland are part of the same China .

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned China's aggressive military maneuvers, saying there was no justification to use the Chinese chief's visit to Taiwan as a pretext. U.S. Congressmen Nancy Pelosi.

For their part, the ASEAN foreign ministers wrote in a joint statement: The world is in urgent need of wisdom and a sense of responsibility from all heads of state to defend multilateralism […] and peaceful coexistence.

Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly called for calm amid escalating tensions between the United States, Taiwan and China, while blaming Beijing responsibility for the current impasse.

We call on China to de-escalate, because we believe there may be risks not only of escalating tensions, but also of destabilizing the region , she said.

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