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Taiwan criticizes China drills in air and sea after Pelosi visit

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | August 7, 2022 at 8:39 a.m.
A worker wearing masks pushes a cart past children collecting drinks from a breakfast buffet as a news broadcast report on the military exercises, in Pingtan in eastern China's Fujian province, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. China cut off contacts with the United States on vital issues Friday — including military matters and crucial climate cooperation — as concerns rose that the Communist government's hostile reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit could signal a lasting, more aggressive approach toward its U.S. rival and the self-ruled island. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


BEIJING -- Taiwan said Saturday China's military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei that angered Beijing.

Taiwan's armed forces issued an alert, dispatched air and naval patrols around the island, and activated land-based missile systems in response to the Chinese exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said. As of 5 p.m., 20 Chinese aircraft and 14 ships continued to carry out sea and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait, it said.

The ministry said zones declared by China as no-go areas during the exercises for other ships and aircraft had "seriously damaged the peace." It emphasized that Taiwan's military does not seek war, but would prepare and respond for it accordingly.

China's Ministry of Defense said Saturday in a statement it had carried out military exercises as planned in the sea and airspaces to the north, southwest, and east of Taiwan, with a focus on "testing the capabilities" of its land strike and sea assault systems.

China launched live-fire military drills after Pelosi's trip to Taiwan last week, saying it violated the "one-China" policy. China sees the island as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if necessary, and considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its sovereignty.

Taiwan's army also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of the offshore county of Kinmen on Friday night and fired warning flares in response.

The four drones, which Taiwan believed were Chinese, were spotted over waters around the Kinmen island group and the nearby Lieyu Island and Beiding islet, according to Taiwan's Kinmen Defense Command.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands only 6.2 miles east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province in the Taiwan Strait, which divides the two sides that split amid civil war in 1949.

"Our government & military are closely monitoring China's military exercises & information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary," Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet.

"I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan & halt any escalation of the regional security situation," she added.

The Chinese military exercises began Thursday and are expected to last until today. So far, the drills have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan's leaders and voters.

Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defense drills, while the U.S. has deployed numerous naval assets in the area.

The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the U.S. remains committed to a "one-China" policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting.

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

China will not be able to isolate Taiwan by preventing U.S. officials from traveling there, Pelosi said Friday in Tokyo, the last stop of her Asia tour.

Pelosi has been a long-time advocate of human rights in China. She, along with other lawmakers, visited Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters at the square.

CYBERATTACKS INCREASE

Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at bringing down the website of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs had doubled between Thursday and Friday, compared to similar attacks ahead of Pelosi's visit, according to Taiwan's Central News Agency. The ministry did not specify the origin of the attack.

Other ministries and government agencies, such as the Ministry of Interior, also faced similar attacks on their websites, according to the report.

A distributed-denial-of-service attack is aimed at overloading a website with requests for information that eventually crashes it, making it inaccessible to other users.

Also Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that the deputy head of the Taiwan Defense Ministry's research and development unit, Ou Yang Li-hsing, was found dead in his hotel room after suffering a heart attack. He was 57, and had supervised several missile production projects.

The report said his hotel room in the southern county of Pingtung, where he was on a business trip, showed no signs of intrusion.

Taiwanese overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of the island's de facto independence and reject China's demands that the island unify with the mainland under Communist control.

Globally, most countries subscribe to the "one-China" policy, which is a requirement to maintain diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Any company that fails to recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces swift backlash, with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott its products.

On Friday, Mars Wrigley, the manufacturer of the Snickers candy bar, apologized after it released a video and materials featuring South Korean boy band BTS that had referred to Taiwan as a country, drawing swift criticism from Chinese users.

In a statement on its Weibo account, the company expressed "deep apologies."

"Mars Wrigley respects China's national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts business operations in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations," the statement said.

In a separate post, the firm added that there is "only one China" and said that "Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory."

N. KOREA SLAMS PELOSI

North Korea on Saturday called Pelosi "the worst destroyer of international peace and stability," accusing her of inciting anti-North Korea sentiment last week.

While in South Korea, Pelosi visited a border area with North Korea and discussed the North's nuclear program with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo. According to Kim, the two agreed to support their governments' push for denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula based on strong, extended deterrence against the North and diplomacy.

On Saturday, Jo Yong Sam, director general at the North Korean Foreign Ministry's press and information affairs department, slammed Pelosi over her visit to the border and discussion of anti-North Korean deterrence.

"Pelosi, who had come under a volley of due criticism from China for destroying regional peace and stability by visiting Taiwan, stirred up the atmosphere of confrontation" with North Korea during her stay in South Korea, Jo said in a statement carried by state media.

Calling Pelosi "the worst destroyer of international peace and stability," Jo argued Pelosi's behavior in South Korea clearly showed the Biden administration's hostile policy toward North Korea.

"It would be a fatal mistake for her to think that she can go scot-free in the Korean Peninsula," Jo warned. "The U.S. will have to pay dearly for all the sources of trouble spawned by her wherever she went."

Pelosi's visit Thursday to the Joint Security Area at the Korean border made her the highest-profile American to go there since then-President Donald Trump visited in 2019 for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Located along the world's most heavily fortified border, the area is jointly controlled by the American-led United Nations Command and North Korea. U.S. presidents and other top officials have previously traveled to the area to reaffirm their security commitment to South Korea in times of animosities with North Korea.

During her JSA visit, Pelosi didn't make any strong public statements against North Korea. She uploaded several photos from the JSA on Twitter and wrote: "We conveyed the gratitude of the Congress and the Country for the patriotic service of our servicemembers, who stand as sentinels of Democracy on the Korean Peninsula."

Pelosi said in a separate statement she and Kim, the South Korean parliamentary speaker, reaffirmed "our commitment to the U.S.-Korea alliance to advance security, strengthen our supply chains, and increase trade and investments that are beneficial to both our nations."

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high following North Korea's torrid run of missile tests earlier this year. U.S. and South Korean officials said North Korea is ready to carry out its first nuclear weapons test in five years.

North Korea has said it would not return to denuclearization talks and instead focus on expanding its nuclear program unless the United States drops its hostile policies, in an apparent reference to U.S.-led international sanctions on the North and its regular military drills with South Korea.

Information for this article was contributed by Hyung-Jin Kim and staff members of The Associated Press.

  photo  A woman adjusts her hair near a picture of paramount Chinese leader Mao Zedong surrounded by Chinese national flag at a community center in Pingtan in eastern China's Fujian province, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. Taiwan said Saturday that China's military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei that infuriated Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 
  photo  Hotel guests collect food from a breakfast buffet as a news broadcast report on the military exercises, in Pingtan in eastern China's Fujian province, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. China cut off contacts with the United States on vital issues Friday — including military matters and crucial climate cooperation — as concerns rose that the Communist government's hostile reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit could signal a lasting, more aggressive approach toward its U.S. rival and the self-ruled island. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 
  photo  A hotel guests collects food from a breakfast buffet as a news broadcast report on the military exercises, in Pingtan in eastern China's Fujian province, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. China cut off contacts with the United States on vital issues Friday — including military matters and crucial climate cooperation — as concerns rose that the Communist government's hostile reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Taiwan visit could signal a lasting, more aggressive approach toward its U.S. rival and the self-ruled island. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 
  photo  In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Taiwanese naval frigate Lan Yang is seen from the deck of a Chinese military ship during military exercises on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China is holding drills in waters around Taiwan in response to a recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Lin Jian/Xinhua via AP)
 
 
  photo  In this photo provided by China’s Xinhua News Agency, a People's Liberation Army member looks through binoculars during military exercises as Taiwan’s frigate Lan Yang is seen at the rear, on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China is holding drills in waters around Taiwan in response to a recent visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Lin Jian/Xinhua via AP)
 
 
  photo  A Chinese J-11 military fighter jet flies above the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan, the closest land of mainland China to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan in southeastern China's Fujian Province, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the U.S. on issues from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 
  photo  A boat moves through the water at the 68-nautical-mile scenic spot, the closest point in mainland China to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan in southeastern China's Fujian Province, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China conducted "precision missile strikes" Thursday in waters off Taiwan's coasts as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 
  photo  In this image made from video and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese military plane flies during a training exercise of the air force corps of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. China conducted "precision missile strikes" Thursday in waters off Taiwan's coasts as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Xinhua via AP)
 
 
  photo  A woman sorts out supplies near a poster showing Chinese leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pingtan in eastern China's Fujian province, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022. Taiwan said Saturday that China's military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taipei that infuriated Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
 
 


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