China keen to show a ‘significant’ response to US intervention
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The Russian President accused the United States on Tuesday of whipping up tensions in Asia, describing a visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi as a “thoroughly planned provocation”.
In a speech to a Moscow security conference, Putin also cited the AUKUS security pact between Australia, Britain and the United States as evidence of Western attempts to build a NATO-style bloc in the Asia-Pacific region.
His comments formed part of a narrative that Moscow is energetically pushing as it seeks to justify its war in Ukraine and build new global alliances to counter what Putin called Western hegemony and neo-colonialism.
While Western governments have condemned the invasion as an imperial land grab and united in imposing waves of sanctions on Moscow, Russia is actively courting countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America with the prospect of closer trade ties, arms sales and a vision of a new “multipolar world order”.
Speaker Pelosi’s visit this month to Taiwan, which China claims as its own, was “not just a trip by a single irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilise and sow chaos in the region and the world”, Putin said.
“We also see that the collective West is seeking to extend its bloc system to the Asia-Pacific region by analogy with NATO in Europe.
“For this purpose, aggressive military-political alliances are being formed, such as AUKUS and others.”
Furious at Ms Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, China had extended its largest-ever exercises around the self-ruled island it claims as its own beyond the four days originally scheduled.
The military drills included launches of ballistic missiles, some of which flew over the island’s capital of Taipei, and simulated sea and air attacks in surrounding skies and waters.
In a brief statement, the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said its joint military operations around Taiwan had “successfully completed various tasks and effectively tested the integrated combat capabilities of the troops”.
It added: “Theatre forces will keep an eye on the changes in the situation in the Taiwan Strait, continue to carry out training and preparation for combat, organise regular combat readiness patrols in the direction of the Taiwan Strait, and resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
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Taiwan Defence Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said in response to China’s statement that under the premise of not relaxing combat readiness, Taipei would “fully adjust the allocation of forces based on factors such as the enemy threat”.
Ms Pelosi told a news conference in Washington that the United States could not allow China to normalise a new level of pressure on Taiwan.
“What we saw with China is that they were trying to establish sort of a new normal. And we just can’t let that happen,” she said when asked if she expected China to use her visit to justify more drills.
The Biden administration has said the US military would in the coming weeks continue to carry out routine passages through the Taiwan Strait, which the US government says is an international waterway.
Last week, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters that Chinese navy ships were active off both the east and west coasts of Taiwan.
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As of the afternoon, the Chinese navy continued activities near the median line, an unofficial buffer in the Taiwan Strait, and Chinese fighter jets also continued to fly close to the line, the source said.
Taiwan has dispatched airplanes and ships to the area to monitor the situation, the source said.
Video from state broadcaster CCTV showed Chinese fighter jets scrambling and refuelling in mid-air, as well as navy ships on what it said were drills around Taiwan.
China’s military said the drills were focused on blockades and resupply logistics, “under a complex electromagnetic environment to refine joint containment and control capabilities”, according to CCTV.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said 17 Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line last Wednesday.
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