China bared its teeth on Tuesday, preparing to fire missiles around Taiwan as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a visit to the island after weeks of Chinese fulminations.
The Chinese state-run Global Times called the military exercises “rehearsals” for China to “reunify the island by force” and said they served as “warnings to the U.S.”
The outlet reported that the exercises will feature “J-20 stealth fighter jets and test firing of conventional missiles that analysts said could fly over the island.”
“Joint maritime and air exercises will be held in sea and air spaces to the north, southwest and southeast of the island of Taiwan, long-range live-fire shooting will be held in the Taiwan Straits, and conventional missile test launches will be held to the east of the island of Taiwan,” the report said, citing Senior Col. Shi Yi of the People’s Liberation Army.
“It is also possible that the missiles will be launched from the PLA Navy vessels that are sailing to the east of the island, said military experts, noting that the move will target the external forces that try to intervene in the reunification process from the east,” the report said, a between-the-lines comment aimed at forces that might come to Taiwan’s aid in any invasion.
The U.S. called the movements “routine deployments.”
A Chinese notice issued by the Xinhua News Agency listed multiple areas around Taiwan as locations where live-fire exercises would be conducted and sought to ban shipping and aircraft from those zones. It was unclear if the U.S. would respect that warning.
Taylor Fravel, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology expert on China’s military, said Beijing is outdoing the actions it took during a 1995-1996 crisis over control of the Taiwan Strait, according to Reuters.
“Taiwan will face military exercises and missile tests from its north, south, east and west. This is unprecedented,” Fravel said.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst, said the live-fire exercises will take place from Thursday to Sunday.
“The People’s Liberation Army’s struggle with Taiwan is going to intensify in frequency and it will escalate the scale of force to tackle the U.S. government’s provocations,” he said, according to The New York Times.
China added volleys of rhetoric as Pelosi landed in Taiwan.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the visit “seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously undermines the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations and sends a seriously wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces,” according to a separate report from the Times.
A separate statement issued by the Chinese Communist Party’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that if Taiwan seeks to be independent, such hopes will be “shattered by the powerful force of the Chinese people.”
Although Taiwan is self-governing, China believes that the island is rightfully part of its own territory, and aggressively fights any implication that the democratic nation is anything else.
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