China’s military launched new military maneuvers in the seas and airspace surrounding Taiwan on Monday, a day after the scheduled end of its largest-ever exercises in protest of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last week.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command announced cooperative drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations, confirming some security analysts’ and diplomats’ suspicions that Beijing will maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry slammed the decision, claiming that China was purposely instigating conflicts. It demanded that Beijing halt its military actions and “pull back from the edge”

“In the face of military intimidation created by China, Taiwan will not be afraid nor back down, and will more firmly defend its sovereignty, national security, and free and democratic way of life,” the ministry said in a statement.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week infuriated China, which regards the self-ruled island as its own and responded with the first-ever test launch of ballistic missiles over Taipei, as well as the suspension of some lines of communication with Washington.

The duration and exact location of the upcoming drills are unknown, although Taiwan has already relaxed aviation restrictions near six previous Chinese exercise sites encircling the island. 

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves shortly before the latest drills were announced, telling him she was moved by his determination to visit despite China’s military pressure. 

“Prime Minister Gonsalves has expressed in recent days that the Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan. These statements have deeply touched us,” Tsai said at a welcome ceremony for Gonsalves in Taipei.

Tsai did not say if he invited Gonsalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. When asked by Reuters, Taiwan’s foreign ministry said, “We don’t disclose internal planning or communications between governments,”

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

According to a person familiar with the situation who is involved with security planning, roughly ten vessels from China and Taiwan maneuvered at close quarters around the unofficial median line of the Taiwan Strait shortly before those drills finished on Sunday.

Late on Sunday, a Chinese official media analyst stated that the Chinese military would henceforth conduct “regular” drills on the Taiwan side of the border.

Source: Reuters

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