China continued its exceptional military exercises around self-ruled Taiwan on Tuesday as part of its "countermeasures" against the island nation of 24 million people, which hosted US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for less than 24 hours last week.
The People’s Liberation Army's (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said its forces from naval and air force continued exercises around Taiwan island focusing on the "joint blockade and joint support," the Chinese daily Global Times reported.
China began military exercises last Thursday after Pelosi left Taipei, and they were scheduled to end on Sunday. Beijing, however, announced on Monday that it would extend its live-fire drills around Taiwan. The PLA did not say when the latest drills would end but stated that they would "focus on anti-submarine and air-to-ship strikes" in waters near Taiwan.
Pelosi visited Taiwan despite Beijing's warnings that the self-ruled island is a "breakaway province" and that her visit would be in violation of the country's "one-China policy."
The Chinese military also launched ballistic missiles around Taiwan, some of which fell in waters claimed by Japan to be its exclusive economic zone.
After Pelosi flew out of Taiwan last week on Wednesday, the PLA has since dispatched the largest number of military jets across the Taiwan Strait, with many entering the self-declared air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, which the two militaries across the Taiwan Strait avoid crossing.
Taiwan has also begun military drills in waters near the media line, an imaginary boundary that the fleets of mainland China and the self-ruled island avoid crossing.
No median line, says Beijing
There is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said on Tuesday.
“Taiwan is part of China’s territory,” he said, referring to imaginary territorial line in waters that divide Taiwan from mainland China. The two sides avoid crossing the line.
Defending Chinese military exercises and training in waters near Taiwan, he said: “Our measures are open and appropriate, in line with domestic law, international law and international practice, and beyond reproach.”
Beijing doubled down on Monday on its claims that Taiwan, which has maintained on independence since 1949, was a part of China.
“The definition of the one-China principle is crystal-clear, i.e. there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is part of China, and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China,” Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry told a news briefing in Beijing.
“Certain countries have unilaterally added preconditions and provisos to the one-China policy in an attempt to distort, fudge and hollow out their one-China commitment. This is illegal, null and void.”
Earlier, Wang blamed the US and "Taiwan secessionists" for undermining the one-China principle and altering the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
“Their violation of the one-China principle is the root cause that has set off the terrible waves in the Straits,” said Wang.
Beijing also justified downgrading military dialogue with the US accusing Washington of creating “strain” in the Taiwan Strait.
‘China determined to link East and South China Seas’
Accusing China of an attempt to “weaken public morale” in Taiwan, the self-ruled island’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Tuesday the Chinese military drills are part of “its military play-book to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan.”
“China is now determined to link the East and South China Seas through the Taiwan Strait so that this entire area becomes its internal waters,” Joseph told a news conference early today.
Lauding Taiwanese people, military and government for “displaying resilience, confidence, and calm,” he said: “Taiwan certainly has the right to maintain relationships with other countries and to participate in and contribute to the international community. The people of Taiwan also have the right to express their collective will through democratic system. China has no right to interfere in or alter this.”
China sanctioned Pelosi and her family as part of its response to her visit and announced eight steps to suspend or cancel cooperation with Washington.
Beijing announced eight countermeasures, including the cancellation of a phone call between the US and Chinese military chiefs, the cancellation of a working meeting between the Chinese and US Defense Departments, and the suspension of China-US cooperation on illegal immigrants, drug control, and climate change.
Pelosi is the first sitting US House speaker who visited Taiwan in the past 25 years.
She led a delegation of US lawmakers on a trip that began the previous Monday in Singapore, then went to Malaysia, and then to Taiwan, triggering an angry response from Beijing.
She left Taiwan on Wednesday evening for South Korea and finally landed in Tokyo on Thursday night to conclude her visit on Friday.
Taiwan was not mentioned in Pelosi's official tour agenda.