China begins largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan after Pelosi visit
Russia says Beijing has right to hold military drills around the self-ruled island
BEIJING – In a show of its military might after a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China started its largest-ever military exercises encircling the self-ruled island on Thursday.
Pelosi, the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, completed her trip to the island nation on Wednesday despite a series of stark threats from Beijing. She said before leaving her trip made it “unequivocally clear” the US would not abandon a democratic ally.
Pelosi's visit sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed “punishment” and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest waterways.
The exercises, which began around 12 pm (0400 GMT), involve “live-firing”, according to state media.
“Six major areas around the island have been selected for this actual combat exercise and during this period, relevant ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant waters and airspaces,” state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The exercises are taking place in multiple zones around Taiwan — at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the shore — and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said it was closely watching the drills.
“The Ministry of National Defence stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes,” it said in a statement.
In a related development, the Kremlin said that China had the sovereign right to hold military drills around Taiwan and accused the US of fuelling tensions in the region.
Asked about China’s drills, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “This is China’s sovereign right.”
“The tension in the region and around Taiwan was provoked… by the visit of Nancy Pelosi,” Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “It was an absolutely unnecessary visit and an unnecessary provocation.”
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