As the president of the independent island met with a fresh congressional delegation on Monday, China planned further military exercises nearby, threatening to rekindle tensions between Beijing and Washington only days after a similar visit by American officials. China was enraged by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi was the highest-ranking official from the United States to visit Taiwan in 25 years, and her arrival sparked almost two weeks of ominous military drills by China, which asserts sovereignty over the island. Beijing dispatched jets and military ships over the Taiwan Strait’s midline during those earlier drills, launched missiles over the island and into the waterway, which has traditionally served as a barrier between the two sides that divided after a civil war in 1949.
China claims that the US supported the island’s independence by selling weaponry and fostering relations between US lawmakers and the island’s leadership. Washington insists that the two sides should settle their conflict amicably, that it does not favor independence, and that there are no official diplomatic relations with the island. However, Washington is constitutionally required to make sure the island can defend itself in the event of an assault.
The Defense Ministry had stated that the planned drills were meant to be a decisive reaction and grave deterrent against cooperation and provocation between the US and Taiwan.
Since the ministry did not specify where or when the new drills would take place, unlike prior rounds, it was unclear if they had actually begun.
China claims that it wishes to annex Taiwan peacefully, but recent saber-rattling has highlighted its threat to do so through military force. The prior training exercises seemed to be a practice for a blockade or attack on Taiwan that would compel the cancellation of commercial flights, impede shipping to Taiwan’s major ports, and halt goods traveling across the Taiwan Strait, one of the busiest maritime routes in the world.
Although the drills forced Taiwan to keep its military on alert, the general populace, used to living in China’s shadow, reacted to them mostly with hostility or disinterest.