Taiwan’s foreign minister says China is executing part of a game plan for aggression

TAIPEI, Aug 9 (Reuters) – Taiwan’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that China’s military drills to protest a visit by U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi were a game plan in preparation for an invasion of the self-ruled island.

Joseph Wu, speaking at a press conference in Taipei, did not provide a timetable for a possible invasion of Taiwan, which China claims is its own.

He said Taiwan would not be intimidated by the ongoing exercises, as China frequently violates the unofficial demarcation line in the Taiwan Strait.

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“China has used drills in its military playbook to prepare for an invasion of Taiwan,” Wu said.

“It has been conducting large-scale military exercises and missile launches, cyber attacks, disinformation and economic coercion in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan.

“After the drills are over, China may try to regularize its operation in an effort to clear the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said.

Such moves threatened regional security and provided a “clearer picture of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan,” urging greater international support to prevent China from effectively controlling the strait.

A Pentagon official said Monday that Washington is sticking to its assessment that China will not try to invade Taiwan for the next two years. read more

Wu spoke as military tensions eased after the planned end on Sunday of four days of massive Chinese exercises around the island.

China’s Eastern Theater Command announced on Monday that it will conduct new joint exercises focusing on anti-submarine and maritime attack operations — confirming fears by some defense analysts and diplomats that Beijing will continue to tighten its grip on Taiwan’s defenses.

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A person familiar with defense planning in the area around Taiwan described to Reuters on Tuesday a continuing “standoff” around the demarcation line involving 10 warships each from China and Taiwan.

“China has continued to try to enter the Line of Control,” the person said. Taiwanese forces there are trying to keep international waterways open.

Since Pelosi left the region last Friday, China has also dropped some communications with the United States, including theater-level military talks and discussions on climate change.

Taiwan began its own long-planned drills on Tuesday, firing howitzer cannons into the sea in the southern district of Pingtung.

US President Joe Biden, in his first public comments on the issue since Pelosi’s visit, said Monday that he was concerned about China’s actions in the region but not about Taiwan. read more

“I’m concerned that they’re moving as far as they are,” Biden told reporters in Delaware, referring to China. “But I don’t think they’re going to do anything more than them.”

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Call also said the US military would continue to conduct cruises through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.

China has never ruled out occupying Taiwan by force, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday, adding that China conducts normal military exercises “in our waters” in an open, transparent and professional manner, adding that Taiwan is part of China.

Taiwan rejects China’s claim to sovereignty, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

Reporting by Sarah Wu and Yimo Lee in Taipei; Written by Greg Dorodt, Cinematography by Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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