The Chinese army started Thursday, August 4, the most important military maneuvers in its history around Taiwan, a muscular response to the visit to the island of the speaker of the American House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, on the island. . “The exercises begin”, Chinese public television CCTV said in a message posted on the Weibo social network. Shortly after, the Chinese military fired unidentified projectiles from Pingtan Island towards the Taiwan Strait, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Nancy Pelosi, who left Wednesday after staying less than twenty-four hours, insisted that the United States would not abandon the island, ruled by a democratic regime and which lives under the constant threat of an invasion by the Chinese army. “Those who offend China must be punished, inevitably”retorted, from a distance, the head of Chinese diplomacy Wang Yi.
According to the Chinese newspaper GlobalTimeswhich quotes military analysts, the exercises are of a magnitude ” unprecedented “. “This is the first time that the Chinese military will launch live ammunition and long-range artillery fire over the Taiwan Strait”insists the daily, known for its nationalist tone.
“An irrational act aimed at challenging the international order”
As a security measure, the China Maritime Security Administration has ” prohibited “ vessels to enter the areas concerned. These drills will take place in a variety of areas encircling Taiwan – sometimes just 20 kilometers from the Taiwanese coast – and will last until noon Sunday.
“If Taiwanese forces voluntarily come into contact with [l’armée chinoise] and come to accidentally fire a shot, [l’armée chinoise] will retaliate vigorously and it will be up to the Taiwanese side to bear all the consequences.”an anonymous military source in the Chinese army told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The island’s authorities have denounced this program, recalling that it threatens the security of East Asia. “Some of China’s maneuver areas encroach on (…) the territorial waters of Taiwan”said Sun Li-fang, the spokesman for the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, castigating “an irrational act aimed at challenging the international order”. “The Ministry of National Defense stresses that it will respect the principle of preparing for war without seeking war”reacted the ministry in a press release.
For Beijing, these exercises – as well as others, more limited, started in recent days – are “a necessary and legitimate measure” After the visit of mrme Pelosi. “It is the United States that is the provocateurs, and China that is the victim. China is in self-defense., assured the press Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The exercises aim to simulate a “blockade” of the island and include “the assault of targets at sea, the striking of targets on the ground and the control of airspace”said the official news agency New China.
EU condemns “aggressive” maneuvers
The head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, on Thursday condemned the military maneuvers “aggressive” of China, considering that there was “no rationale” use “as a pretext” the visit to Taiwan of the leader of the American congressmen, Nancy Pelosi.
“It is normal for MPs from our countries to travel internationally”, he wrote on Twitter from Phnom Penh, on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
His ASEAN counterparts have warned that the situation around the Taiwan Strait could lead to “open conflicts”in a joint statement issued shortly after.
“ASEAN is concerned about international and regional instability, especially with recent developments in the adjacent ASEAN region, which may lead to miscalculations, serious confrontation, open conflicts, and adverse consequences. unpredictable for the great powers”they assured. “The world is in urgent need of wisdom and the sense of responsibility of all heads of state to defend multilateralism (…) and peaceful coexistence”they continued.
The head of Chinese diplomacy, Wang Yi, is in Phnom Penh on Thursday, where he is to meet representatives of ASEAN. His American counterpart, Antony Blinken, also made the trip to the Cambodian capital.
If the hypothesis of an invasion of Taiwan, populated by 23 million inhabitants, remains unlikely, it has increased since the election, in 2016, of the current president, Tsai Ing-wen. Coming from an independentist party, Mme Tsai refuses, unlike the previous government, to recognize that the island and the mainland are part “of one China”.