Biden Is ‘concerned’ As China Expands Military Drills Around Taiwan
- According to Kahl, the US military will continue to conduct passages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.
- The ministry had previously stated that the drills used warships, aircraft, and drones to simulate attacks on the island and its navy.
China announced new military drills around Taiwan on Monday, alarmed US President Joe Biden, a day after the scheduled end of Beijing’s largest exercises to protest US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island last week.
China’s Eastern Theatre Command announced joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations, confirming some security analysts’ and diplomats’ concerns that Beijing would maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defences.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry condemned the move, claiming that China, which claims the self-governed island as its own, was purposefully causing crises. It demanded that Beijing halt its military actions and “retreat from the brink.”
“In the face of China’s military intimidation, Taiwan will not be afraid or back down, and will defend its sovereignty, national security, and free and democratic way of life even more firmly,” the ministry said in a statement.
In his first public comments on the issue since Pelosi’s visit, Biden stated that he was concerned about China’s actions in the region rather than Taiwan.
“I’m concerned about how quickly they’re moving,” Biden told reporters in Delaware. “But I don’t think they’ll do anything more than they already are.”
Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, later condemned China’s drills.
“We’ve been condemning them since the escalation began,” Jean-Pierre explained. “They are provocative, irresponsible, and risk miscalculation.” And that’s what he was referring to, the president.”
VISIT ANGERS CHINA
Pelosi’s visit enraged China, which responded by conducting ballistic missile tests over Taipei for the first time and abandoning some lines of communication with Washington, including theatre military talks and climate change talks.
Counter-narcotics cooperation on illicit fentanyl trafficking was among the channels Beijing suspended, a move that US drug policy chief Rahul Gupta called “unacceptable” on Monday.
The duration and exact location of the latest drills are unknown, but Taiwan has already relaxed flight restrictions near six previous Chinese exercise areas surrounding the island.
On Monday, Taiwan’s defence ministry reported seeing 39 Chinese air force planes and 13 navy ships in and around the Taiwan Strait. According to the ministry, twenty-one Chinese air force planes had entered Taiwan’s air defence zone, including fighter jets that crossed the median line in the northern part of the Taiwan Strait.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned of the dangers of miscalculation in the Taiwan Strait.
“A storm is brewing around us. “Relations between the United States and China are deteriorating, with intractable issues, deep suspicions, and limited engagement,” Lee said in a televised address.
Despite China’s recent actions, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told a briefing that the US still believed it was unlikely that China would try to retake Taiwan militarily in the coming years.
According to Kahl, the US military will continue to conduct passages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.
On July 19, the Benfold destroyer sailed through the waterway that separates China and Taiwan, and the US military has been doing so about once a month.
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.
“In recent days, Prime Minister Gonsalves stated that the Chinese military drills would not prevent him from visiting friends in Taiwan.” “These statements have deeply moved us,” Tsai said at Gonsalves’ welcome ceremony in Taipei.
The Caribbean country is one of only a few dozen that have formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan rather than China.
Tsai did not say whether he invited Gonsalves before or after Pelosi’s visit. Taiwan’s foreign ministry stated that it does not disclose internal government planning or communications.
In addition to the 11 short-range ballistic missiles fired during the previous four days of exercises, Chinese warships, fighter jets, and drones manoeuvred extensively around the island.
According to a person familiar with the situation who is involved with security planning, about ten warships from China and Taiwan manoeuvred at close quarters around the unofficial median line of the Taiwan Strait shortly before those drills ended on Sunday.
Late on Sunday, a Chinese state television commentator stated that the Chinese military would now conduct “regular” drills on the Taiwan side of the border.
MILITARY TALKS SHELVED
Sun Li-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s defence ministry, told reporters in Taipei that the Chinese drills had been handled “calmly.” The ministry had previously stated that the drills used warships, aircraft, and drones to simulate attacks on the island and its navy.
China’s designated no-fly zones and median line crossings have “compressed” Taiwan’s training space and will affect the normal operation of international flights and air routes in the future, according to the ministry.
Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said on Monday that China was conducting normal military exercises “in our own waters” in an open, transparent, and professional manner, adding that Taiwan was part of China.
Meanwhile, China’s defence ministry maintained diplomatic pressure on the US, defending the cancellation of some military-to-military talks.
“The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is entirely provoked and created by the US side on its own initiative, and the US side must bear full responsibility and serious consequences for this,” said Wu Qian, a spokesman for the Chinese defence ministry, in an online post.
“The bottom line cannot be broken,” Wu said, adding that “communication requires sincerity.”