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The US, Australia and Japan urge China to cease military exercises around Taiwan – as it happened

 Updated 
Sat 6 Aug 2022 22.19 EDTFirst published on Fri 5 Aug 2022 22.42 EDT
'We will defend ourselves': Taiwan's president issues warning to China – video

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White House calls China's military drills "provocative" and "irresponsible"

A White House spokesperson said that China is trying to “change the status quo” through its military drills around Taiwan, according to Reuters.

“These activities are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation,” the spokesperson said. “They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.”

Key events

Summary

Thank you for joining us for today’s live coverage.

We will be launching a new blog shortly. In the meantime, you can read our comprehensive summary of the day’s events below.

  • Taiwan’s defence ministry accused Chinese aircraft and ships of carrying out simulation attack exercises on its main island on Saturday. Several batches of Chinese aircraft and ships were detected in the Taiwan Strait, 14 of which crossed the median line – an unofficial buffer separating the two sides – according to the ministry. Taiwan’s army used patrolling naval ships and put shore-based missiles on stand-by in response.
  • The White House has condemned the escalation in military drills.“These activities are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation,” a spokesperson said.
  • China has accused the US of interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, said the US should have stopped Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
  • The Chinese embassy warned Australia against involvement in its actions over Taiwan, saying “finger-pointing” against Beijing was unacceptable. Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong earlier condemned Beijing’s “disproportionate and destabilising” actions, saying she had expressed her concern to her Chinese counterpart at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.
  • Taiwan’s defence ministry said its naval forces are keeping tabs on China’s military vessels off the eastern coast. It comes after Taiwan accused Chinese aircraft and ships of carrying out simulation attack exercises on its main island on Saturday.
  • The People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command said it continued on Saturday to conduct sea and air joint exercises north, southwest and east of Taiwan, as planned. It said its focus was on testing the system’s land strike and sea assault capabilities.
  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said China should not hold talks on important global matters such as the climate crisis “hostage”, after Beijing cut off contacts with Washington in retaliation for US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week.
  • Speaking at a rally in Wisconsin, the former US president Donald Trump has questioned why Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. He told supporters: “What was she doing in Taiwan? She was China’s dream, she gave them an excuse. They’ve been looking for that excuse.”
  • A Taiwan official who was in charge of various missile production projects was found dead on Saturday morning in a hotel room in southern Taiwan, according to the official Central News Agency. Ou Yang Li-hsing, the deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, was 57. The cause of his death is unknown, CNA reported.
  • The US, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers have urged China to immediately cease military exercises around Taiwan. In a joint statement, officials expressed their concern about China’s recent actions “that gravely affect international peace and stability, including the use of large-scale military exercises”. They also condemned China’s launch of ballistic missiles, five of which the Japanese government reported landed in its exclusive economic zones “raising tension and destabilising the region”.
  • Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said Chinese military drills near Taiwan were a threat to regional security. Beijing announced four days of drills that are expected to finish on Sunday. The drills are a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”, Kishida said.
  • North Korea has denounced Nancy Pelosi as “the worst destroyer of international peace and stability”, after the US House speaker expressed her commitment during a visit to South Korea to achieving the North’s denuclearisation. It also condemned her trip to Taiwan.
A Taiwanese F-5 fighter jet is seen after taking off from Chihhang Air Base on 6 August in Taitung, Taiwan. Photograph: Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

Chinese diplomats continue in their campaign to lay the blame on the US and accuse Washington of causing chaos in the region.

China’s former ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, has just posted a lengthy series of tweets in which he quotes China’s foreign minister, Yang Wi.

In total disregard of the firm opposition and repeated representations of the Chinese side and with the condonement and even arrangement of the US government, Pelosi went ahead with the visit to China’s Taiwan region.

This reckless move seriously undermined China’s sovereignty, seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, seriously violated the commitments by the US, seriously jeopardised peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. It is only natural that China makes a firm response.

Our position is justified, reasonable and legal; our measures are firm, strong and measured; and our military exercises are open, transparent and professional. They are consistent with domestic and international laws, as well as international practices.

They are aimed at sending a warning to the perpetrator and punishing the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces. We will firmly safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolutely stop the United States’ attempt to use the Taiwan card to contain China.

We will firmly shatter the Taiwan authorities’ illusion to pursue Taiwan independence by soliciting the support of the US. At the same time, we are upholding the international law and the basic norms governing international relations, particularly non-interference in countries’ internal affairs.

This is the most important international norm enshrined in the UN Charter. If the principle of non-interference is discarded, the world will return to the law of the jungle, the UshnaShah will become even more unscrupulous in treating and bullying other countries.”

Wang Yi: In total disregard of the firm opposition and repeated representations of the #Chinese side and with the condonement and even arrangement of the #US government, #Pelosi went ahead with the visit to China's #Taiwan region.

— 刘晓明Liu Xiaoming (@AmbLiuXiaoMing) August 7, 2022

Taiwan has welcomed delegates from the Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines today.

Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s minister of foreign affairs, met with officials this morning ahead of their reportedly six-day visit to the island.

Minister Wu extended a warm welcome to Taiwan’s great supporter Ralph Gonsalves. It’s a real privilege to have the PM of our country’s Caribbean ally St Vincent and the Grenadines and his delegation with us at this challenging time.”

Minister Wu extended a warm welcome to #Taiwan's🇹🇼 great supporter @ComradeRalph. It's a real privilege to have the PM of our country's #Caribbean ally #StVincentAndTheGrenadines🇻🇨 & his delegation with us at this challenging time. All the best to our friends for the 6-day visit! pic.twitter.com/wxBeXIWbYN

— 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) August 7, 2022

While we are in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has been asked if the opposition think Australia should support Taiwan militarily if China invaded.

I think it is a principled position to defend your neighbour, but it’s also a principle borne out of self-interest. If I don’t stand up for other countries, who will stand up for me? As a nation of only 26 million people on a vast continent, we need as many friends we can get.

In fact, I would say the era of the lucky country is over. It’s dead and buried and we need to start thinking with this new development over the last decade about how we secure ourselves into the future and the strategic culture of Singapore and Israel are good examples of how we can prepare for the challenges ahead, given our size and strength relative to countries like China and Russia.

Asked if he would go to Taiwan, after Nancy Pelosi’s visit sparked unprecedented military aggression from China, Hastie hasn’t ruled out the option.

I’m open-minded to going there. I have a very full dance card... with a young family and enough travel as it is, but certainly I’m on the record that I would like to visit Taiwan at some point.

They have invited me... I will wait and see.”

China warns Australia against 'finger-pointing'

The Chinese embassy in Australia has this morning condemned a joint statement from Australia’s foreign minister Penny Wong together with her Japanese counterpart and US secretary of state in response to Beijing’s unprecedented military aggression.

The joint statement released on Friday expressed concern over China’s large-scale military exercises in the water of the Taiwan Strait and condemned China’s ballistic missiles landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zones.

In response, a spokesperson from the Chinese embassy has said Beijing is “seriously concerned and strongly discontent”. The spokesperson went on to say:

It is absolutely unacceptable for the finger-pointing on China’s justified actions to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. We firmly oppose and sternly condemn this.

The statement goes on to defend the actions taken by the Chinese government as “legitimate and justified” in order to “safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity and curb the separatist activities”.

The spokesperson says the one-China principle “should be strictly abided by and fully honoured. It should not be misinterpreted or compromised in practice.”

China’s consul general in Belfast has had some stern words to say about US involvement in Taiwan’s affairs this morning.

Zhang Meifang made the comments in a series of tweets:

So, the US provokes China. China is forced to respond. Region is destabilised, as well the relationship between the countries in addressing critical world issues. Threatening global peace and prosperity for all. Nice job Pelosi! Way to make your point! What was your point?

The USA poses the single greatest threat to world peace. And it does so under the promise of so-called freedom. For freedom under its terms is no freedom at all. And it comes at the price of peace itself!” she added.

So, the #US provokes China. #China is forced to respond. Region is destabilized, as well the relationship between the countries in addressing critical world issues. Threatening global peace & prosperity for all. Nice job #Pelosi! Way to make your point! What was your point? pic.twitter.com/IGq2Zsal8u

— Zhang Meifang张美芳 (@CGMeifangZhang) August 6, 2022

Summary

It’s 7 am in Taipei. Here’s a summary of the latest developments.

  • Taiwan scrambled jets to warn away 20 Chinese aircraft, including 14 that crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, the island’s defence ministry said on Saturday according to Reuters. Taiwan said China’s military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, AP reports.
  • In response to the military drills, the White House released a statement condemning the escalation. “These activities are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation,” a spokesperson said.
  • Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, accused the US of interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs. Chunying also said the US should have stopped Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
  • The Chinese embassy has warned Australia against involvement in its actions over Taiwan, saying “finger-pointing” against Beijing was unacceptable, reports Reuters. Foreign minister Penny Wong on Friday condemned Beijing’s “disproportionate and destabilising” actions, saying she had expressed her concern to her Chinese counterpart at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. The Chinese embassy in Australia responded with a spokesperson’s statement on Saturday expressing concern and “discontent” about the remarks from the three countries.
  • Taiwan’s defence ministry said its naval forces are keeping tabs on China’s military vessels off the eastern coast. It comes after Taiwan accused Chinese aircraft and ships of carrying out simulation attack exercises on its main island on Saturday.
  • The People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command said it continued on Saturday to conduct sea and air joint exercises north, southwest and east of Taiwan, as planned, Reuters reported. It said its focus was on testing the system’s land strike and sea assault capabilities.
  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Saturday that China should not hold talks on important global matters such as the climate crisis “hostage”, after Beijing cut off contacts with Washington in retaliation for US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week. Blinken spoke in an online news conference with his Philippine counterpart in Manila after meeting the newly elected president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, and other top officials.
  • Speaking at a rally in Wisconsin, the former US president Donald Trump has questioned why Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. He told supporters: “What was she doing in Taiwan? She was China’s dream, she gave them an excuse. They’ve been looking for that excuse.”
  • Taiwan’s defence ministry has accused Chinese aircraft and ships of carrying out simulation attack exercises on its main island on Saturday. Several batches of Chinese aircraft and ships were detected in the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the median line – an unofficial buffer separating the two sides – according to the ministry. Taiwan’s army used patrolling naval ships and put shore-based missiles on stand-by in response.
  • A Taiwan official who was in charge of various missile production projects was found dead on Saturday morning in a hotel room in southern Taiwan, according to the official Central News Agency. Ou Yang Li-hsing, the deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, was 57. The cause of his death is unknown, CNA reported.
  • The US, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers have urged China to immediately cease military exercises around Taiwan. In a joint statement after meeting in Phnom Penh on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers’ gathering, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the foreign ministers of Australia and Japan, Penny Wong and Hayashi Yoshimasa, “expressed their concern about the People’s Republic of China’s recent actions that gravely affect international peace and stability, including the use of large-scale military exercises”. They also “condemned the PRC’s launch of ballistic missiles, five of which the Japanese government reported landed in its exclusive economic zones, raising tension and destabilising the region”.
  • Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said Chinese military drills near Taiwan were a threat to regional security. Beijing announced four days of drills that are expected to finish on Sunday. The drills are a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”, Kishida told reporters, speaking after a meeting with the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in Tokyo on Friday.
  • North Korea has denounced Nancy Pelosi as “the worst destroyer of international peace and stability”, after the US House speaker expressed her commitment during a visit to South Korea to achieving the North’s denuclearisation. It also condemned her trip to Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy in Australia released a lengthy statement in response to the joint statement made by the foreign ministers of Australia, Japan and the United States that expressed concerns over China’s military drills in Taiwan.

“Instead of expressing sympathy and support to the victim, the Australian side has condemned the victim along with the perpetrators,” the statement from the embassy read. “This is completely putting the cart before the horse and reversing the right from the wrong.”

The statement went on to say that Japan “should be the first to engage in self-reflection and discretion” for its history of colonization in Taiwan.

“Australia should not take sides and blindly make unfair judgments that run counter to the facts.”

“We hope the Australian side should view China-Australia relations with serious attitude, respect facts, uphold justice and abandon wrong standing,” the statement read.

The New York Times published a story today analyzing the deep-set fears Xi Jinping has in his party losing control in China. Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Over informal, private meals with American leaders, China’s Xi Jinping let his guard down a little. It was a decade ago, relations were less strained, and Mr. Xi, still cementing his power, hinted he worried about the Chinese Communist Party’s grip.

Speaking privately with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Xi suggested that China was a target of “color revolutions,” a phrase the party adopted from Russia for popular unrest in the name of democracy and blamed on the West. The recent “Arab Spring” uprisings across the Middle East had reinforced his concerns that China was vulnerable to public anger over corruption and inequality, both of which the country had in abundance.

“Xi couldn’t have been more forthright that China is beset by malevolent forces and internally prey to centrifugal forces,” said Daniel R. Russel, a former senior American diplomat who accompanied Mr. Biden to China in 2011.

“He would talk all the time about color revolutions. That’s clearly a sort of front-of-mind issue for him,” said Ryan Hass, the National Security Council director for China when Mr. Xi later visited the White House.

Such fears have come to define the era of Mr. Xi. Over the past decade, he has pursued an all-encompassing drive to expand the very meaning of “national security” in China, bolstering the party’s control on all fronts against any perceived threats abroad that could pounce on weakness at home.

He has strengthened, centralized and emboldened an already pervasive security apparatus, turning it into a hulking fortress that protects him and positions him as the most powerful leader since Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Mr. Xi has built what he calls a “comprehensive” system designed for a world he sees as determined to thwart China — politically, economically, socially, militarily and technologically.

For anyone interested in reading up on Taiwenese history and culture, University of Washington historian James Lin posted on Twitter a syllabus from his graduate class on the country.

As a historian of Taiwan, I'm lucky to be at an institution where I can teach a dedicated Taiwan Studies graduate seminar. I'm sharing my syllabus here (abridged) in case others might be interested in reading some of my favorite scholarship on different aspects of Taiwan. 1/n pic.twitter.com/Ypb7VGuvMc

— James Lin (@jamestwotree) July 14, 2020

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting story about what life is like in Taiwan days after Nancy Pelosi’s visit as China escalates tension in the region. Largely, life is going on as usual. Here’s more from the report:

Democratic Taiwan is encircled by the fleet of Communist-ruled mainland China, part of Beijing’s response to a visit Wednesday by U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The four-day drill simulates a blockade of the main island, with live firing in demarcated zones—one of which is less than 6 miles from the Liuqiu lookout, where local businessman Kevin Tseng said dozens of visitors gathered with their cameras Thursday afternoon.

“They were there to watch the fun,” said Mr. Tseng, adding that the drills have had no noticeable impact on his scooter-rental business, with just one group citing them when they texted to cancel a booking. Otherwise, everyday life on the island goes on as usual, he said.

“If they really attack us, there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just relax and take it easy,” the 40-year-old said. …

Taiwan’s night markets were teeming Friday evening with crowds craving their favorite street food or lining up for bubble tea. Markets and grocery stores were well stocked, too. Cultural activities such as live-music performances in the capital of Taipei—dubbed Asia’s answer to Portland, Ore.—are continuing as usual.

The Chinese drills were largely absent from the daily conversations of more than 20 people contacted by The Wall Street Journal.

White House calls China's military drills "provocative" and "irresponsible"

A White House spokesperson said that China is trying to “change the status quo” through its military drills around Taiwan, according to Reuters.

“These activities are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible, and raise the risk of miscalculation,” the spokesperson said. “They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.”

A slate of low-quality titles just published after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan are being sold on Amazon, one Twitter user pointed out. The books appear to be by fake authors, with some including Pelosi’s name in the title or cover.

New disinformation push on Amazon? A torrent of new low quality "books" about Taiwan has appeared; a quick Google shows at least some of the content is plagiarised, and the names of the authors appear to be fake. I count 61 of these under one search term alone. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/ICakkKlzgb

— Michael Cannings (@formosaphile) August 5, 2022

Amazon has come under fire for recommending titles with questionable authorship to its customers, such as ones on coronavirus. Under Amazon’s content guidelines for books, Amazon does “not allow descriptive content meant to mislead customers or that doesn’t accurately represent the content of the book”.

Tech companies will likely have a lot on their hands as China escalates tensions with Taiwan. In 2019, Chinese state media outlets tried to buy paid advertisements on Facebook and Twitter that poorly portrayed Hong Kong protestors. In 2020, a swarm of accounts on Twitter were pushing out non-stop pro-Beijing content as China sought to shape the narrative around Covid-19.

Canada’s defense minister Anita Anand said that China’s military drills around Taiwan are an “unnecessary escalation” in an interview with CBC Radio.

“There is no justification to use a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait,” Anand said. “It is routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally, and China’s escalatory response simply risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region.”

On Friday, China’s foreign ministry summoned Beijing-based Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel over the country’s participation in a statement from G7 nations calling on China to end its aggressive action around Taiwan.

More drones were seen flying over the Kinmen islands Saturday night, Kinmen’s defense command has reported, according to CNA, Taiwan’s national news agency.

Just in: #Taiwan’s army in Kinmen said three drones entered restricted water near the island and the army fired flares to warn it. This is the third night in a row that Taiwan has reported such activities. The first two times were done by Chinese drones. https://t.co/XTIHIjaZxk

— William Yang (@WilliamYang120) August 6, 2022

Similar drones were flying over restricted waters around the islands Friday night. In response, the Taiwanese army fired signal flares to warn off the unidentified drones.