Chinese Military Tests Threaten Taiwan
China’s military is conducting live-fire military tests in the waters surrounding Taiwan — a show of force intended to punish the island for hosting Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, earlier this week.
At least 11 Chinese missiles struck seas north, south and east of Taiwan within 24 hours of Pelosi’s departure. The drills, some of which are being held in areas less than 10 miles from the Taiwanese coast, will also have given Chinese forces valuable practice should they one day be ordered to encircle and attack the island.
While imminent conflict is unlikely, the exercises, which are expected to last a full three days, are putting the region on edge. Tensions could escalate dangerously, especially if something goes wrong. The Japanese government said that five Chinese missiles had fallen into its exclusive economic zone, the first time any had landed in those waters.
American officials have expressed concern that the events could trigger an unintended confrontation between Chinese and Taiwanese forces, especially if the Chinese military launches a missile over the island, or if an incursion into disputed airspace leads to a midair conflict.
On social media, many Chinese people were disappointed with Beijing’s limited response to Pelosi’s visit, especially given the government’s tough rhetoric. Some compared the military to the Chinese men’s soccer team, a laughingstock in the country because it has qualified for the World Cup only once.
Pelosi met with political leaders in South Korea on Thursday and remained largely silent on China’s response, The Associated Press reported. The South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who is on vacation, spoke with her over the phone rather than in person — which critics saw as an intentional snub in consideration of South Korean relations with China.