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China starts live-fire exercises around Taiwan in response to Pelosi visit

Pedestrians wait at an intersection near a screen showing footage of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft during an evening news program, in Beijing, China, on August 2, 2022. (Photo by Reuters)

China has begun large-scale military sea and air exercises around Chinese Taipei in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island and amid soaring tensions between Washington and Beijing over the highly-controversial trip.

The unprecedented military exercises kicked off on Thursday a day after Pelosi left Taipei, featuring J-20 stealth fighter jets and the test firing of conventional missiles, according to the Global Times.

Some of the six areas where Beijing has said the exercises will be held fall within Taipei’s self-declared territorial waters.

Pelosi arrived on Tuesday and met Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. She addressed the island’s parliament on Wednesday before participating in public and private meetings with the president.

Beijing had issued stern warnings against the visit.

In a later statement, Pelosi said China could not prevent world leaders from traveling to Taipei "to pay respect to its flourishing democracy."

Taipei has characterized the drills by mainland China as “a violation of international law.” Major General Chang Zone-sung of the military’s Kinmen Defense Command told the news agency that the Chinese drones came in a pair and flew into the Kinmen Islands, self-claimed Taiwanese territory off China’s southeastern coast, twice on Wednesday night.

“We immediately fired flares to issue warnings and to drive them away. After that, they turned around. They came into our restricted area and that’s why we dispersed them,” he said.

China on Wednesday also expanded its trade suspensions on Chinese Taipei to include additional agriculture products, following a ban earlier in the week on imports from more than 100 Taiwanese food companies. China is Taipei’s largest trading partner.

Under the “one China” policy, nearly all countries across the globe recognize Beijing’s sovereignty over Taipei, including the US, which nevertheless supports its anti-China stance and supplies it with massive amounts of armaments.

The United Nations on Wednesday reiterated its support for the one-China principle, noting that it follows the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 of 1971.

“Our position is very clear. We abide by General Assembly resolutions, by the one-China policy, and that is the orientation that we have in everything we do,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a briefing.

Pelosi was the first sitting speaker of the house to travel to Taiwan in 25 years. China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing, Nicholas Burns, over Pelosi’s visit, notifying the envoy about the country’s strong protest.

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