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Taiwanese foreign minister says China is using drills as practice for invasion

A Pentagon official said Washington was sticking to its assessment that Beijing would not try to take control of the self-ruling island for the next two years.
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/ Source: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that China was using the military drills it launched in protest against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit as a game plan to prepare for an eventual invasion of the self-ruled island.

Joseph Wu, speaking at a news conference in Taipei, offered no timetable for a possible invasion of Taiwan, which is claimed by China as its own.

He said Taiwan would not be intimidated even as the drills continued with China often breaching the unofficial median line down the Taiwan Strait.

“China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan,” Wu said.

“It is conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, as well as cyberattacks, disinformation and economic coercion, in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.

“After the drills conclude, China may try to routinize its action in an attempt to wreck the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said.

Such moves threatened regional security and provided “a clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan,” Wu said, urging greater international support to stop China effectively controlling the strait.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Tuesday the drills provided “a clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan.”AP

A Pentagon official said on Monday that Washington was sticking to its assessment that China would not try to invade Taiwan for the next two years.

Wu spoke as military tensions simmer after the scheduled end on Sunday of four days of the largest-ever Chinese exercises surrounding the island — drills that included ballistic missile launches and simulated air and sea attacks in the skies and waters surrounding Taiwan.

China’s Eastern Theater Command announced on Monday that it would conduct fresh joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations, confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would keep up the pressure on Taiwan’s defenses.

As Pelosi left the region last Friday, China also ditched some lines of communication with the United States, including theater-level military talks and discussions on climate change.

Taiwan started its own long-scheduled drills on Tuesday, firing howitzer artillery out to sea in the southern county of Pingtung.

President Joe Biden, in his first public comments on the issue since Pelosi’s visit, said on Monday he was concerned about China’s actions in the region but he was not worried about Taiwan.

“I’m concerned they are moving as much as they are,” Biden told reporters in Delaware, referring to China. “But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than they are.”

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl also said the U.S. military would continue to carry out voyages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.

China has never ruled out taking Taiwan by force, and on Monday Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China was conducting normal military exercises “in our waters” in an open, transparent and professional way, adding Taiwan was part of China.

Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.