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China announces new military exercises around Taiwan

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Chinese military on Monday announced new military exercises in the seas and airspace around Taiwan, a day after the planned end of the largest-ever exercises to protest last week’s visit to Taipei by house speaker Nancy Pelosi.

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it would conduct joint exercises focused on anti-submarine and naval attack operations, confirming fears by some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would continue to put pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week infuriated China, which considers the self-ruled island its own and responded by dropping ballistic missile test launches over Taipei for the first time, as well as dropping some lines of dialogue with Washington.

The duration and precise location of the latest exercises is not yet known, but Taiwan has already relaxed flight restrictions near the six previous Chinese exercise areas around the island.

Shortly before the final exercises were announced, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met a visiting Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, and told him she was moved by his determination to visit him, despite the military pressure from China.

Prime Minister Gonsalves has said in recent days that the Chinese military exercises would not stop him from visiting friends in Taiwan. These statements touched us deeply,” Tsai said at a welcoming ceremony for Gonsalves in Taipei.

It was unclear whether Tsai had invited Gonsalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. “We do not disclose internal planning or inter-government communications,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said at Reuters’ request.

In addition to firing 11 short-range ballistic missiles during the previous four days of exercises, Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones maneuvered extensively around the island.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said Chinese military ships, planes and drones had simulated attacks on the island and its navy. It said it had sent planes and ships to respond “appropriately”.

China’s defense ministry, meanwhile, maintained diplomatic pressure on the United States, defending the suspension of military-to-military talks in protest at Pelosi’s visit.

“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait has been completely provoked and created by the US on its own initiative, and the US must bear full responsibility and dire consequences for this,” Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said in a statement. online mail.

“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.

China called off formal talks on Friday as Pelosi left the region regarding theater-level commands, defense policy coordination and military maritime consultations.

Pentagon, State Department and White House officials condemned the move, describing it as an irresponsible overreaction.

China’s severing of some of the few communications links with the US military raises the risk of an unintended escalation over Taiwan at a critical time, security analysts and diplomats said.

A US official noted that Chinese officials had not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials during last week’s tensions, but they did not see this as a formal severing of ties with senior figures such as US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. .

Asked directly about those reports, Defense Ministry spokesman Wu said, “China’s relevant countermeasures are a necessary warning of the provocations of the United States and Taiwan, and a legitimate defense of national sovereignty and security.”

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