Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Thursday that unidentified aircraft, probably drones, had flown on Wednesday night above the area of its Kinmen islands, which are just off the southeastern coast of China, and that it had fired flares to drive them away.
A senior military official at Taiwan’s outlying kinmen islands added that the situation is “normal” on the islands, including its military alertness level, according to a recent Reuters report.
The world’s most powerful democracies have slammed China for “increasing tensions and destabilizing the region” over its response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The G7’s top diplomats on Wednesday said they were “concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China, particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation”.
The statement from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, the US and the EU, read:
There is no justification to use a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally.
The PRC’s escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region.
It urged China not to “unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region, and to resolve cross-strait differences by peaceful means”.
They also made clear there was “no change in the respective one-China policies, where applicable, and basic positions on Taiwan of the G7 members”.
[We] encourage all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency, and maintain open lines of communication to prevent misunderstanding.”
Following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s high-profile visit to Taiwan, the senior US official arrived in Seoul on Wednesday night as part of her Asian tour.
The congresswoman, who is second in line to the US presidency, will on Thursday meet South Korea’s National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and leaders of the ruling conservative People Power Party, as well as the opposition Democratic Party of Korea.
However, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has no plans to meet Pelosi as he is currently on a summer holiday, an official at the presidential office told SCMP.
The official denied earlier press reports that Yoon, who is taking a break at his home in Seoul, may head out to receive Pelosi.
In the first place, there was no such a plan (for Yoon’s meeting with Pelosi) as the president’s vacation schedule coincides with her visit here.”
The presidential office “welcomes” Pelosi’s visit to South Korea and it hopes her talks with National Assembly Speaker Kim will be productive, the official said.
Asked about Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan, she said: “Our government’s stance is that we will maintain close communication with the nations concerned on all issues under the banner of the need for peace and stability in the region through dialogue and cooperation.”
Speculation mounted on social media.
“Because of vacation? No way. Yoon is not meeting Pelosi as he is nunchi-ing around China,” one post read. Had this happened to Yoon’s predecessor – liberal former president Moon Jae-in – conservatives and news media would have “raised hell with it” and accused Moon of nunchi-ing around Beijing, the post added.
The former Chinese ambassador to the UK issued a scathing statement overnight, warning the US to stop obstructing China’s “great cause of reunification” and describing the process as a “historical inevitability”.
Liu Xiao Ming said:
The United States should not fantasize about obstructing China’s great cause of reunification. Taiwan is part of China.
Realizing complete national reunification is the general trend and a historical inevitability. We will never leave any space for ‘Taiwan independence’ split and interference from external forces.
No matter what way the US supports and condoms ‘Taiwan independence’, it will ultimately be a sham, and it will only leave more ugly records of the US grossly interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in history.
The Taiwan issue was born out of the country’s weakness and chaos, and it will surely end with the rejuvenation of the nation in the future.”
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s live coverage of tensions between China and Taiwan.
I’m Samantha Lock and I will be bringing you all the latest developments.
It is approaching 7am in Beijing. Here is everything you might have missed:
- China is to begin a series of unprecedented live-fire drills that would effectively blockade the island of Taiwan, just hours after the departure of US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, whose controversial visit this week has sparked fears of a crisis in the Taiwan strait.
- Taiwan has characterized the drills as a violation of international law. The drills will last until Sunday afternoon – and will include missile tests and other “military operations” as close as nine miles to Taiwan’s coastline.
- Ahead of the drill, Taiwan said 27 Chinese warplanes had entered its air defense zone.
- Pelosi arrived in Taipei on Tuesday night under intense global scrutinyand was met by the foreign minister Joseph Wu and the US representative in Taiwan, Sandra Oudkirk.
- Pelosi addressed Taiwan’s parliament on Wednesday before having public and private meetings with the president, Tsai Ing-wen. “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon Taiwan, and we are proud of our enduring friendship,” she said, adding that US solidarity with Taiwan was “crucial” in facing an increasingly authoritarian China.
- In a later statement, she said China could not prevent world leaders from traveling to Taiwan “to pay respect to its flourishing democracy”.
- Pelosi’s trip generated condemnation from Beijing and sparked fears of a new Taiwan strait crisis.
- China vowed “consequences” and military exercises announced in waters around the island on Thursday to show their dissatisfaction.
- Taiwan’s defense ministry accused Beijing of planning to violate the international convention on the law of the sea, by breaching Taiwan’s sovereign territory.
- Taiwanese authorities have said the proximity to some major ports combined with orders for all aircraft and sea vessels to steer clear of the area amount to a blockade.
- While China’s military often holds live-fire exercises in the strait and surrounding seas, those planned for this week encircle Taiwan’s main island and target areas within its territorial sea.