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China Extends Taiwan Military Exercises08/08 06:06

   

   BEIJING (AP) -- China said Monday it was extending threatening military 
exercises surrounding Taiwan that have disrupted shipping and air traffic and 
substantially raised concerns about the potential for conflict in a region 
crucial to global trade.

   The exercises would include anti-submarine drills, apparently targeting U.S. 
support for Taiwan in the event of a potential Chinese invasion, according to 
social media posts from the eastern leadership of China's ruling Communist 
Party's military arm, the People's Liberation Army.

   The military has said the exercises involving missile strikes, warplanes and 
ship movements crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait dividing the sides 
were a response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the self-ruled 
island last week.

   China has ignored calls to calm the tensions, and there was no immediate 
indication of when it would end what amounts to a blockade.

   On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China 
would "firmly safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, 
resolutely deter the U.S. from containing China with the Taiwan issue and 
resolutely shatter the Taiwan authorities' illusion of "relying on the U.S. for 
independence."

   Taiwan's defense ministry said Sunday it detected a total of 66 aircraft and 
14 warships conducting the naval and air exercises. The island has responded by 
putting its military on alert and deploying ships, planes and other assets to 
monitor Chinese aircraft, ships and drones that are "simulating attacks on the 
island of Taiwan and our ships at sea."

   Meanwhile, Taiwan's official Central News Agency reported that Taiwan's army 
will conduct live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung county on Tuesday 
and Thursday, in response to the Chinese exercises.

   The drills will include snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles as well 
as attack helicopters, said the report, which cited an anonymous source.

   China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has threatened to annex it by 
force if necessary. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing 
considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its sovereignty.

   Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has called on the international community to 
"support democratic Taiwan" and "halt any escalation of the regional security 
situation." The Group of Seven industrialized nations has also criticized 
China's actions, prompting Beijing to cancel a meeting between Foreign Minister 
Wang Yi and his Japanese counterpart, Yoshimasa Hayashi.

   China has cut off defense and climate talks with the U.S. and imposed 
sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for her visit.

   The Biden administration and Pelosi say the U.S. remains committed to the 
"one-China" policy that extends formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing while 
allowing robust informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

   The U.S., however, criticized Beijing's actions in the Taiwan Strait, with 
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling them "fundamentally 
irresponsible."

   "There's no need and no reason for this escalation," Jean-Pierre said.

   In Washington, Taiwanese de facto ambassador Bi-khim Hsiao said China had no 
reason to "be so furious" over Pelosi's visit, which follows a long tradition 
of American lawmakers visiting Taiwan.

   "Well, you know, we have been living under the threat from China for 
decades," Hsiao told CBS News on Sunday. "If you have a kid being bullied at 
school, you don't say you don't go to school. You try to find a way to deal 
with the bully.

   "The risks are posed by Beijing," Hsiao said.

   On a visit to Myanmar, whose Chinese-backed military government has been 
accused of murdering its opponents, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said 
Washington was "taking the opportunity to build up its military deployment in 
the region, which deserves high vigilance and resolute boycott from all sides."

   "China's firm stance" is aimed at "earnestly safeguarding peace across the 
Taiwan Strait and regional stability," Wang was quoted as saying by the 
official Xinhua News Agency.

   Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong called for a cooling of 
tensions. "Australia continues to urge restraint, Australia continues to urge 
deescalation, and this is not something that solely Australia is calling for, 
and the whole region is concerned about the current situation, the whole region 
is calling for stability to be restored," Wong told reporters in Canberra.

 
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