US House Speaker meets with Taiwan’s president and praises island’s resilience

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday presented US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a special award, calling her “one of Taiwan’s most devoted friends” who helped strengthen Taiwan-US relations.

Tsai met Pelosi in the morning after the US House Speaker visited the Legislative Yuan, or Parliament of Taiwan. Pelosi praised the island for its success in the fight against the COVID pandemic, calling Taiwan “one of the” freest societies in the world.”

“Taiwan has been an island of resilience,” Pelosi said in a brief speech during her meeting with President Tsai.

“America’s determination to preserve democracy here in Taiwan and” around the world remains rock solid,” said the Speaker of the U.S. House, adding that: her visit made it unequivocally clear that the US dedication to Taiwan.”

In response, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan was “determined” maintain the sovereignty of our nation and keep holding the line of defense for democracy.”

“Facing Deliberately Increased Military Threats, Taiwan Will” don’t backtrack,” Tsai said, referring to the latest developments around the world Taiwan Strait.

Locations of Chinese military exercises around Taiwan on August 4-7. CREDIT: Xinhua

When Pelosi landed in Taipei, China’s The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced unprecedented live fire drills at 6 a.m. locations around Taiwan, some overlapping sovereign territorial of the island waters as defined in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

On the same day, 21 Chinese military aircraft, including 10 J-16 fighter jets and two reconnaissance aircraft, flew in the air defense of Taiwan identification zone (ADIZ).

‘Unprecedented military exercises’

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The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command must “assemble a series of” military operations around the island of Taiwan from the evening of August 2,” said Sr. Col. Shi Yi, de Spokesperson of the command.

Naval and air combat exercises will be conducted in the northern, southwestern and southeastern waters and airspace for Taiwan, while long-haul combat fire live shooting will be conducted in the Taiwan Strait and conventional missile firepower test launched in eastern Taiwan waters, according to Shi Yi.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday condemned what… it calls “the reckless behavior of communist China to shoot live” drills in waters and skies near Taiwan, some of which are in the adjacent waters.”

The exercises will essentially shut down and violate Taiwan’s airspace its territorial waters, the ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Sun Li-Fang said China “threatens” international air routes, challenges international order, damages the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and destroys regional security.”

Activities around the territory of Taiwan are closely monitored, the Defense ministry said, vowed “appropriate answers when necessary.”

China rejected Taiwan’s criticism of the military exercises.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday Chinese military actions were legitimate and intended as a… deterrent to Taiwan.

The Taiwan Ministry of Transport and Communications is coordination with Japan and the Philippines to plan alternative cargo flights routes for goods as the Chinese planned exercises amount to an air blockade, the officially Central Press Agency (TBEN) reported.

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Washington officials said China’s announced military exercises… an “overreaction”.

“There is no reason… for Beijing to turn around this visit, which is in line with long-standing US policy, in a sort of? crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressiveness and military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait, now or outside of her journey”, national Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Grant Newsham, a retired US Marines colonel turned political analyst, said prior to Nancy Pelosi’s visit that he did not expect China to launch attacks on the US or Pelosi itself. But, he said, they might lash out at… Taiwan.

“The Chinese Communists Are Now Ready To Make A Serious Application” pressure – including possible military might – against America’s friends and partners, and challenge the United States to respond,” he told RFA.

“That’s what I think we’re most likely to see and most… probably directed against Taiwan. In other words, make sure that the Americans must take the ‘first shot’ against the PRC,” added Newsham.

“The government of Taiwan must do whatever it takes to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself,” said the analyst.

“It needs to increase defense spending, show its army something” respect and improve the terms of service, reset the national service, a effective reserve defense forces and the creation of an effective civil defense system.”

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Taiwanese fighter jets at Taipei Songshan Airport on the last day of the Han Kuang military exercise, July 29, 2022. CREDIT: Taiwan Ministry of Defense

A new crisis?

Beijing sees Taiwan as “an inalienable part of China” that to be reunited with the mainland at all costs.

However, analysts say, despite the noisy saber chatter Beijing, there may not be another crisis because “no one wants war”.

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While China has said Pelosi’s visit would challenge its “red line” for Sino-US relations, Beijing is unlikely to do anything risky in the Taiwan Strait during her visit,” said Baohui Zhang, professor of political science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.

“Beijing has no interest in triggering scenarios that could lead to” to miscalculations from all sides and unintended military conflicts,” Zhang said, adding, “As an emerging power, war is the last thing China wants right now.”

During the most recent virtual meeting between Xi and Biden, two leaders both affirmed the need for bilateral efforts to control and control crisis.

In Zhang’s opinion, Pelosi’s visit will not be practical implications for US-China relations, as the trajectory of strategic rivalry is already set.

The Taipei-based Chinese times quoted leaked diplomatic telegrams from the representative of Taiwan office in Washington DC and said they’re both the White House and the… The Pentagon tried to discourage the Speaker of the House from visiting Taiwan.

The The Biden administration is not in favor of the visit and China knows that,” he said Baohui Zhang.

“So the visit is largely a symbolic event showing the turnout Congressional support for Taiwan. It will not redefine US-China relations.

Nancy Pelosi has a meeting with Taiwanese human rights and democracy activists before leaving Wednesday afternoon to continue her Indo-Pacific tour.