NEW DELHI: China’s “geostrategic ambitions” go well beyond Taiwan as its influence extends to Southeast and South Asia and all freedom-loving countries should work together to respond to the “expansion of authoritarianism”, Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu said on Tuesday.
Wu told a news conference in Taipei that the massive air and sea drills launched by China’s military in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the self-governed island were part of preparations for the invasion of Taiwan. He made the remarks against the backdrop of Taiwan’s military launching an artillery exercise simulating defense against an attack.
China last week launched its largest air and sea exercises around Taiwan, firing ballistic missiles that overflew the island and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Chinese warships and combat jets crossed the median line – the halfway point between Taiwan and the mainland – to simulate attacks. China’s People’s Liberation Army has said the drills focused on joint blockade and joint support operations.
“China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan,” Wu told the news conference, accusing Beijing of using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for targeted military exercises that are a serious provocation.
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“Its rehearsal of anti-access and area-denial tactics gives us a clear image of China’s geostrategic ambitions beyond Taiwan…China’s real intention behind these military exercises is to alter the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and the entire region,” he said.
Though China appears to be targeting Taiwan for now, its activities around the world have shown “that its motivation is far beyond Taiwan”, Wu said. “China’s behavior towards Taiwan is merely a pretext. Its ambitions and impact is extending far beyond Taiwan. It is thus critical that all freedom-loving nations work together to explore means to respond to the expansion of authoritarianism,” he added.
Wu listed several of China’s actions that he contended were threatening regional security, including efforts to link the East and South China Seas through the Taiwan Strait so that “this entire area becomes its internal waters”, the signing of a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in May and plans for more such pacts with Pacific countries. “China’s influence also extends into Southeast Asia, South Asia, and even Africa and Latin America,” he said.
India, which is caught up in a military standoff with China in the Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) for more than two years, has maintained a studied silence on the tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
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In a separate development, the Chinese embassy in New Delhi again blamed Pelosi for interfering in China’s internal affairs and jeopardising peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait by visiting Taiwan. “It is the US that stirred up the trouble; it is the US that created the crisis; and it is also the US that kept escalating tensions,” the embassy said in a statement.
Pelosi’s visit also reflects the “confrontational and dangerous nature of the US ‘Indo-Pacific strategy'”, the statement said. China’s military exercises are consistent with domestic and international laws and aimed at “sending a warning to the perpetrator and punishing the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces”.