Taiwan is at the centre of a geopolitical storm as China continues to conduct military drills close to the island. Beijing’s military has announced a new series of exercises near its neighbour, including anti-submarine attacks and sea raids. China will also shun the US’ efforts to hold talks over the situation. The heightened hostility comes after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last week, as China considers the country a breakaway province and so has accused the US of provocation.
Immediately after Ms Pelosi departed Taiwan Chinese forces conducted days of major live-fire exercises, and one expert believes Beijing’s sabre-rattling may not go away anytime soon.
Richard Heydarian, an academic who has taught political science at De La Salle University and Ateneo De Manila University, and is an incoming research fellow at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, spoke to The Globalist podcast last week.
He said: “There are concerns that missiles will be fired closer and closer to Taiwan, there are concerns that an extended blockade might be imposed on Taiwan.
“This is a very disturbing situation which has brought back many traumatic memories for South East Asia.
“Our fear is that if China escalates this, eventually the US will be dragged in with military response. We have seen China conducting massive military drills in the area, but also the US expanding its footprint.”
Despite the growing tensions, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has called on international allies to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
Last week, Taiwanese figures also warned that the military exercises near their territory could be a simulation for an invasion.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement: “Multiple batches of Communist planes and ships conducting activities around the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the median line.”
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, is also in a defiant mood.
On Monday, he said the threat to his country is “more serious than ever” but affirmed that Taiwan will stand up for itself.
Mr Wu added: “China has always been threatening Taiwan for years and it’s getting more serious in the last few years.
“Whether Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan or not, the Chinese military threat against Taiwan has always been there and that is the fact that we need to deal with.
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China’s aggression in the South China Sea has been another cause for concern as Beijing has claimed ownership of much of the South China Sea and even built huge military bases on islands in the area.
This is despite the fact that other countries like Vietnam and the Philippines also claim ownership over parts of the waters.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised the Philippines on Sunday that Washington will defend the country if it is attacked.
He told reporters: “An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels and aircraft will invoke US mutual defence commitments under that treaty.
“The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States.”