Update(1545ET): During Nancy Pelosi's brief visit to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, China's government issued an alert telling commercial airlines to avoid airspace near Taiwan as it kicked off live military drills that essentially choked off maritime areas surrounding the island - drills coming even within 12 nautical miles of the Taiwan coast (conventionally considered "terrotorial waters"). State-run Xinhua also reported that China is conducing joint Navy, Air Force and rocket drills just off Taiwan. And more ominously Global Times said the PLA is preparing to send rockets over the island of Taiwan. As also Axios recapped:
- The alert describing six areas in the region as "danger zones" notifies airlines of flight restrictions due to the military exercises from Thursday at 12 noon until 12 noon Sunday Hong Kong time, per Bloomberg, as officials in Japan also expressed alarm at Beijing's plans.
- China's government also moved to block imports of citrus fruits and frozen mackerel from Taiwan in retaliation for Pelosi's trip, AP reports.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry described the latest PLA actions as essentially a "maritime and aerial blockade." Meanwhile, Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson observes that "48 Chinese military aircraft, mostly fighter jets, have now buzzed Taiwan over the past two days." A little less than half of these were reported by Taiwan's defense ministry as having crossed the "median line" - which it should be recalled Chinese state mouthpiece Global Times said has now ceased to exist.
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To be expected, Taiwan's defense ministry charged Biejing with "violating international law and Taiwan's sovereignty" - given China's ongoing live-fire military exercises that will occur in six different areas around Taiwan, some overlapping with Taiwan's claimed territorial waters. And the mainstay of the drills haven't even yet begun - given the PLA Eastern Theater identified a Thursday "start" date.
Needless to say all of this is incredibly dangerous when considering the potential for an 'inadvertent' incident between either the PLA and Taiwan forces, or between China and the US Navy, considering two days ago the USS Reagan strike group entered regional waters...
3 US carrier groups namely the aircraft carrier group USS Ronald Reagan & the amphibious assault groups USS Tripoli & USS America are in the vicinity of #Taiwan— Indo-Pacific News - Watching the CCP-China Threat (@IndoPac_Info) August 3, 2022
The map also shows the locations of the 2 Chinese carriers, Liaoning & Shandong.#Taiwanchina pic.twitter.com/p4yWKkHJJO
Now that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is safely in Seoul, South Korea - where neither President Yoon Suk-yeol nor the country's foreign minister will meet with her - as the former is conveniently on "vacation" and the latter is in nearby Cambodia - all that she's offered thus far as an "explanation" for soaring regional tensions, and with Taiwan now finding itself in the direct crosshairs of a nuclear-armed superpower is that people are angry that she went to Taiwan because she's a woman.
Yes, she actually said on Wednesday morning while standing alongside Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen: "They didn’t say anything when the men came."
Pelosi: “They didn’t say anything when the men came.” A reference to the fact that in April, US senators Lindsey Graham, Bob Menendez, Richard Burr, Ben Sasse, Rob Portman, and Ronny Jackson visited Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/TwW8t36Bxy— Melissa Chan (@melissakchan) August 3, 2022
What else can be said?... she gets to play the woke victim (but wait: "what is a woman?"), while the Taiwanese people practice emergency bunker drills as they face down the possibility of serious Chinese military aggression.
#PLA drills could pose threat to major ports and shipping lanes in #Taiwan, forming a complete blockage. This blockage could be part of action plans for future reunification-by-force operations, Herman Shuai, a retired Taiwan lieutenant general, told GT https://t.co/gBk6ldMlvG pic.twitter.com/XRTTtSRRJe— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 3, 2022
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Update(9:57ET): Less than a half-day after Nancy Pelosi's departure from Taiwan on a US Air Force plane, a large group of 27 Chinese PLA planes breached Taiwan's air defense identification zone Wednesday, crucially with at least 22 of the aircraft reported as having crossed the Taiwan Strait "median line".
A map posted to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense showed the brief crossovers by the PLA jets. In response, the ministry said it issued radio warnings and readied air defense missile systems to monitor the activities. Taiwan previously said it won't hesitated to deploy its armed forces to thwart "enemy threats". Already as Pelosi's plane was inbound yesterday from Malaysia Chinese planes and ships had buzzed the median line, which demarcates what the self-ruled island deems its own territorial waters.
"27 PLA aircraft (J-11*6, J-16*5 and SU-30*16) entered the surrounding area of R.O.C. on August 3, 2022," Taiwan's military wrote in official social media posts. Earlier in the day state-run English language PRC mouthpiece Global Times declared that Beijing now views the median line has having ceased to exist.
"The exercises are unprecedented as the PLA conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island of Taiwan for the first time, the PLA forces will enter area within 12 nautical miles of the island and that the so-called median line will cease to exist," the publication wrote while detailing the next phase of PLA drills to surround the island.
PLA drills encircling Taiwan (source: Bloomberg Graphics):
Taiwan's military has since confirmed breaches of its territorial waters and airspace above "by force" as the PLA continues its threatening tactics...
PRC announcing air-naval live-fire drills around Taiwan is self-evidently apparent that they seek a cross-strait resolution by force instead of peaceful means. Activities around our territory are closely monitored by #ROCMND and, will meet our appropriate responses when needed.— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) August 3, 2022
To review of the latest via Chinese media outlet Global Times:
- The PLA drills around Taiwan island are unprecedented
- conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island for the 1st time
- PLA forces will enter area within 12 nautical miles to the island
- "median line" ceases to exist
Taiwan has in the last hours issued its own video depicting the military on a high state of alert...
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"Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said during her short Wednesday morning meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen after flying into Taipei the night prior on an Air Force jet. "America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad."
She has already departed on Wednesday, amid ongoing Chinese PLA military drills surrounding the self-ruled island on many sides, which are the result of her visit which Beijing has vehemently condemned, with the foreign ministry warning overnight the US will "pay the price".
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and accepts the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon, a symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship with Taiwan. pic.twitter.com/ODIdq8n6Mv— The Recount (@therecount) August 3, 2022
Taiwan's Tsai, for her part while meeting with Pelosi said, "Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down, we will firmly uphold our nation's sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy."
Tsai bestowed on Pelosi the democratic-island's highest civilian award, called the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon during a live broadcast from the presidential palace.
The Taiwanese president described that it "represented their [Taiwan’s] gratitude to Pelosi and the wish to continue progressing US-Taiwan relations through more cooperation." Pelosi later posted on Twitter that it was a "symbol of America’s strong and enduring friendship."
China's National Defense Ministry in its latest said, "Such an act equals to sealing off Taiwan by air and sea, such an act covers our country’s territory and territorial waters, and severely violates our country’s territorial sovereignty," according to the words by Capt. Jian-chang Yu.
The part of the PLA drill slated for Thursday will include 'live fire' exercises within 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers of Taiwan's shore. The Hill notes it will be "the largest aimed at Taiwan since 1995, when China fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show its displeasure at a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to the U.S."
Taiwan has already charged China with breaching its territorial waters with the drills that kicked off immediately upon Pelosi landing in Taipei the night before.
Meanwhile, more of China's outrage was on display throughout Wednesday, with Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, previewing to a scheduled media briefing more repercussions and punishment to come.
The PLA drills around Taiwan island are unprecedented:— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) August 3, 2022
-conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island for the 1st time
-PLA forces will enter area within 12 nautical miles to the island
-"median line" ceases to exist https://t.co/gBk6le4uJO
"As for the specific countermeasures, what I can tell you is that they’ll include everything that should be included,"Hua said. "The measures in question will be firm, vigorous and effective, and the U.S. side and Taiwan independence forces will continue feeling them."
A statement in state-run Global Times has declared the "median line" separating the Taiwan Strait will not longer be recognized.
"Joint military exercises around the island of Taiwan by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) continued Wednesday with a joint blockade, sea assault and land and air combat trainings, involving the use of advanced weapons including J-20 stealth fighter jets and DF-17 hypersonic missiles after the drills started on Tuesday evening, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed on the island which seriously violates China's sovereignty," the provocative statement says.
"The exercises are unprecedented as the PLA conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island of Taiwan for the first time, the PLA forces will enter area within 12 nautical miles of the island and that the so-called median line will cease to exist, experts said, noting that by surrounding Taiwan entirely, the PLA are completely blockading the island demonstrating the Chinese mainland's absolute control over the Taiwan question," the publication adds.
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A summary of overnight activity and Pelosi's post-trip fallout via Newsquawk:
- US House Speaker Pelosi has concluded her Taiwan visit, has now departed on SPAR19
- US House Speaker Pelosi said there is bilateral support for Taiwan in the US and that her visit is a reminder of the bedrock promise America to always stand with Taiwan, while she added that the delegation came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear that they will not abandon Taiwan. Pelosi also said they explored deepening trade ties with Taiwan and a trade agreement may be imminent, according to Bloomberg and Reuters.
- Taiwan President Tsai told Pelosi she is one of Taiwan's most devoted friends and the visit shows firm US support for Taiwan, while she thanked Pelosi for her unwavering support of Taiwan on the international stage. President Tsai also said Taiwan will not back down in facing deliberately heightened military threats and Taiwan will do whatever it takes to strengthen its self-defence.
- White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications Kirby said the US is monitoring Pelosi's travel and has taken measures to ensure her safety, while he added that China has positioned itself to take further steps and the White House expects China to react beyond Pelosi's trip including by scheduling live fire exercises, while other steps by China could include economic coercion, according to Reuters.
- Taiwan Defence Ministry said Chinese drills have invaded Taiwan's territorial space and they will counter any move that violates Taiwan's territorial sovereignty, while it added that Chinese drills violate UN rules and amount to a blockade of Taiwan's air and sea space, according to Reuters.
- China's Taiwan Affairs Office said it will take disciplinary actions against two Taiwan foundations which will be banned from financially cooperating with mainland firms and individuals. China also announced a stoppage of certain fruit and fish imports from Taiwan and halted exports of natural sands to Taiwan which is a key component used in chip-making, according to Bloomberg. Furthermore, China will adopt criminal penalties regarding Taiwan separatists and vowed criminal punishments for Taiwan-independence diehards, according to Xinhua.
- China's Vice Foreign Minister Xie lodged representations regarding Pelosi's Taiwan visit, according to Xinhua.
- Taiwan is negotiating alternative aviation routes with Japan and the Philippines, according to Taiwanese press.