Chinese and Taiwanese warships eye each other

  • Chinese and Taiwanese ships “cat and mouse” circling the high seas
  • The four days of Chinese exercises conclude in the afternoon
  • China has warned the US not to create a major crisis

TAIPEI, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Chinese and Taiwanese warships played high seas “cat and mouse” on Sunday, hours before the scheduled end of four days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises launched in response to a visit to Taiwan by the U.S. House speaker. .

Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island last week angered China, which test-fired ballistic missiles over the island’s capital for the first time and cut communications links with the United States.

About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan sailed in close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, a person familiar with the matter said.

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Chinese forces “pressed” that line, as they did Saturday, close enough to monitor the Taiwanese side, if possible, denying the Chinese the ability to cross.

“Both sides are showing restraint,” the person said, describing the maneuvers as “cat and mouse” on the high seas.

“One side tries to cross, the other stands in the way and pushes them too far behind, and eventually turns back on the other side.”

Taiwan said its shore-based anti-ship missiles and its Patriot surface-to-air missiles are on standby.

The Chinese exercises, which are centered around six locations around the island, will begin on Thursday and last until noon on Sunday. China’s military said on Saturday it was conducting joint sea and air exercises in Taiwan’s north, southwest and east, focusing on testing land attack and sea attack capabilities.

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The US called these exercises expansion.

“These actions are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, reckless and raise the risk of miscalculation,” a White House spokesman said.

“They conflict with our long-term goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which the world expects.”

‘disturbing the peace’

As part of its response to Pelosi’s visit, China has cut ties with the U.S. through various channels, including military theater orders and climate change.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken accused China of taking “irresponsible” actions and using force instead of prioritizing a peaceful settlement. read more

Taiwan’s military said on Saturday that Chinese ships and aircraft participating in the exercise were carrying out a simulated attack on the island, which China claims as its territory.

Taiwan’s defense ministry later said its forces had chased jets to warn 20 Chinese aircraft, 14 of which crossed the median line. It also found 14 Chinese vessels operating around the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry released a photo showing Taiwanese sailors keeping a close eye on a nearby Chinese vessel.

Taiwan’s forces on Friday set off flares to warn of drones flying over its Kinmen Islands and unidentified aircraft flying over its Matsu Islands. Both island groups lie off the coast of China.

“China’s military exercises have unilaterally changed the current situation in the region and severely damaged peace in the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

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‘Don’t Act Basically’

Pelosi, a longtime China critic and political ally of US President Joe Biden, arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday, defying Chinese warnings and marking the highest-level visit by a US official in decades. He said his visit demonstrates America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.

“The world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” he said. He also stressed that his visit “is not to change the status quo in Taiwan or the region”. read more

Taiwan has been autonomous since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang Nationalists in a civil war in Beijing, prompting them to retreat to the island.

China says its relations with Taiwan are internal and reserves the right to take control of the island by force if necessary. Taiwan has rejected China’s claims that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.

Speaking during a visit to the Philippines, Blinken said the US was hearing concerns from allies about China’s dangerous and disruptive actions, but Washington was trying not to escalate the situation.

He said China’s suspension of bilateral talks in eight key areas was a punishing move by the world.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a media briefing on Friday that Blinken was spreading “misinformation”, saying: “We want to issue a warning to the US: do not act hastily, do not create a big crisis”.

China did not mention the suspension of military talks at senior levels with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. While those talks are infrequent, officials have said they are critical in an emergency.

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Japan’s defense ministry said at last count that five of the nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone.

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Reporting by Yimo Lee in Taipei, David Brunstrom in Manila, Brenda Ko in Shanghai, Meg Shen in Hong Kong, Jeff Mason in Washington; Additional reporting by Ryan Wu; Written by Tony Munro and Greg Dorod; Editing by Robert Birzel

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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