Just hours after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi touched down in Taiwan, China is responding with plans for a might show of force.
Beijing had long warned the US of allowing the prominent diplomat to visit the independent nation, (that China does not recognize as independent), at one point even going so far as to suggest that they would simply shoot Pelosi’s plane out of the sky.
But, now that Madame Speaker has arrived, the CCP is preparing for something far less offensive: Massive military drills near Taiwan.
Beijing announced six exclusion zones encircling Taiwan to facilitate live-fire military drills from Thursday to Sunday, with some of the areas crossing into the island’s territorial waters. The size and scope of the areas could set the stage for the Chinese military’s most provocative actions near Taiwan in decades.
Separately, the People’s Liberation Army said exercises could start as soon as Tuesday, leaving open the possibility of military activities around Taiwan while Pelosi was visiting. The operations include “long-range live firing in the Taiwan Strait” and “regular-guided fire testing in the eastern waters” off Taiwan from Tuesday evening, the PLA said.
“This action is targeted at the US’s shocking recent major escalation on the Taiwan issue, and serves as a serious warning to Taiwanese independence forces or those seeking independence,” Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.
The move is an historic one.
The planned drills would be the most serious show of force by China around Taiwan since at least 1995, when Beijing test-fired missiles into the sea near the island. That move was part of China’s protests against President Bill Clinton’s decision to let Taiwan’s first democratically elected president, Lee Teng-hui, visit the US.
Back then, China also declared exclusion zones around target areas during the tests, disrupting shipping and air traffic.
Pelosi’s visit represents are rather large embarrassment for China, and these military drills appear designed to simply save face.