- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2022

China’s military is continuing provocative military exercises that U.S. officials say are intended to coerce and intimidate Taiwan, a key regional ally.

Spokesmen for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were quoted in Chinese state media as saying continued military exercises around Taiwan are meant to signal that Beijing will “crush” any attempts at Taiwan independence or foreign intervention.

PLA Senior Col. Shi Yi, spokesperson for China’s Eastern Theater Command, said the multiunit joint combat readiness exercises and drills began Monday. The renewed exercises come after days of war games that followed the recent visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The latest action appeared to be a response to another congressional delegation that visited to Taiwan on Sunday, led by Rep. Edward J. Markey, Massachusetts Democrat.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said the latest congressional visit violated the “One China” principle and infringes on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Military officials in Taiwan, formally called the Republic of China (ROC), reported detecting five PLA naval vessels and 30 PLA aircraft on Monday. A total of 15 aircraft were detected flying east of the median line dividing the 100-mile Taiwan Strait between China and Taiwan.

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“We condemn PLA for jeopardizing the peace and security of our surrounding region with announcements of military drills,” Taiwan‘s Defense Minister tweeted.

“#ROCArmedForces monitor activities around our surrounding region and respond to every situation with professionalism to #ProtectOurCountry,” the post stated.

China‘s continued war games come as an American aircraft carrier strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is conducting operations in the nearby Philippine Sea.

The carrier strike group is expected to transit the Taiwan Strait in the coming days in a U.S. show of support for Taiwan.

On Friday, Kurt Campbell, the senior White House policy official on China, said Beijing exploited the Pelosi visit to “launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan and to try to change the status quo, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region.”

China has overreacted, and its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented,” Mr. Campbell said.

Chinese military activities in recent days have included firing at least 11 missiles into waters around Taiwan and declaring exclusion zones around Taiwan that have disrupted civilian, air and maritime traffic.

PLA aircraft crossings of the median line have also disrupted the status quo between the two sides of the strait.

Mr. Campbell told reporters that President Biden ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to remain in the region during the provocative Chinese activities, Mr. Campbell told reporters.

China’s actions are fundamentally at odds with the goal of peace and stability,” Mr. Campbell said. “They are part of an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan, which has not ended, and we expect it to continue to unfold in the coming weeks and months. The goal of this campaign is clear: to intimidate and coerce Taiwan and undermine its resilience.”

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told The Washington Times in an interview over the weekend that China is among several nations that sense weakness from the Biden administration. “Deterrence depends on both capabilities and intention, and the administration has not shown the intention to protect the things that matter,” said Mr. Pompeo, who added that China is increasingly aggressive in advancing its interests regarding Taiwan.

• Bill Gertz can be reached at bgertz@washingtontimes.com.

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