China extends military drills around Taiwan

Foreign Affairs

Beijing has announced it will carry out more drills in the waters surrounding Taiwan a day after they were scheduled to end, as tensions rise in the Taiwan Strait.

Fighter jets take off to the waters surrounding Taiwan on Sunday, August 7, 2022. EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect.

China said on Monday that it is extending military drills surrounding Taiwan, a day after the exercises protesting last week’s visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were scheduled to end, stoking concern about the potential for conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing’s largest-ever military exercises will focus on anti-submarine and air-to-sea assault drills, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, 13 PLA navy vessels and 39 PLA aircraft in the surrounding region were detected today, with 21 of the detected aircraft having crossed over to the east of the median line in the Taiwan Strait.

  • China conducted a “reasonable and appropriate response” to the “vicious and provocative actions” by the U.S., Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wú Qiān 吴谦 said.
  • “Our position is legitimate, reasonable, and lawful. Our measures are resolute, strong, and proportionate,” Foreign Minister Wáng Yì 王毅 said.
  • They were “normal” exercises conducted “in our own waters,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wāng Wénbīn 汪文斌 said, according to Reuters.

“China’s military exercises vs. Taiwan set new precedents, but it’s important to note what they have NOT done, at least yet…This could be viewed as restraint on China’s part, but also are escalation steps they’ve reserved to show even great threat/seriousness *next time*,” former national intelligence officer for East Asia John Culver, who spoke with SupChina last week, said on Twitter.

“The most important thing that Pelosi’s stopover in Taiwan has accomplished is to once again underline the unsustainable absurdity of the U.S.-China agreement on Taiwan,” the president and founder of Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, said.

  • When asked about China’s response to Pelosi’s visit, U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday said: “I’m not worried, but I’m concerned they’re moving as much as they are. But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than they are.”

Beijing earlier canceled a series of talks and cooperation agreements with the United States, and conducted ballistic missile tests in the waters surrounding Taiwan.

  • Australia and the United Nations have urged restraint against an escalation of conflict in the Taiwan Strait, following similar statements made by both the Group of Seven (G7) Foreign Ministers and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Shipping and air traffic around Taiwan have gone back to normal, after some avoided entering the drill zone in the crucial trading region.

Meanwhile, as Jordyn Haime reports for SupChina, life goes on for Taiwan residents as if nothing’s happening. Taiwan experts and officials have refrained from calling the recent tensions a “crisis.” “There’s apparently an overreaction by the foreign media and also by policy experts in the U.S.,” one Taipei-based political scientist said.

Nadya Yeh