China said Monday it was extending threatening military exercises surrounding Taiwan that have disrupted shipping and air traffic and substantially created concerns regarding the potential for conflict in a region crucial to global trade.
The exercises would include anti-submarine drills, apparently targeting U.S. support for Taiwan in the event of a potential Chinese invasion, according to social media posts from the eastern leadership of China’s ruling Communist Party’s military arm, the People’s Liberation Army .The military has said the exercises involving missile strikes, warplanes and ship movements crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait dividing the sides were in response to to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the self-ruled island last week. China has ignored calls to calm the tensions, and there was no immediate indication of when it would end what amounts to a blockade.
On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China would “firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolutely deter the U.S. from containing China with the Taiwan issue and resolutely shatter the Taiwan authorities’ illusion of “relying on the U.S. for independence.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said Sunday it detected a total of 66 aircraft and 14 warships conducting the naval and air exercises. The island has responded by putting its military on alert and deploying ships, planes and other assets to monitor Chinese aircraft, ships and drones that are “simulating attacks on the island of Taiwan and our ships at sea.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s official Central News Agency reported that Taiwan’s army will conduct live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung county on Tuesday and Thursday, to counter Chinese exercises. The drills will include snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles as well as attack helicopters, according to the report attributing to an anonymous source.