Where China plans to conduct military exercises around Taiwan

Although much of the attention has been focused on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the real potential for a military confrontation will come after her departure.

The Chinese military said it would conduct a series of live-fire drills starting on Thursday, a day after it departed. A post in Chinese state media gives coordinates for five waters surrounding Taiwan, three of which coincide with areas Taiwan says are part of its territorial waters.

The exercises, assuming they were conducted, would mark a direct challenge to what Taiwan identifies as its coastline. And they hit the heart of a decades-old dispute over which China claims Taiwan, an autonomous island with a democratically elected government and military.

A New York Times map of the planned drills showing how they would take place in several places within 10 miles of the coast of Taiwan, formerly areas where the drills were held. Previous live-fire battles have targeted and within areas that Taiwan designates as its territorial waters. Two of the areas where the Chinese military will fire weapons, possibly missiles and artillery, are within what Taiwan calls its maritime border. In total, five zones surround the island and mark a clear escalation from previous Chinese exercises.

In its warning, the Chinese military urged all ships and aircraft to avoid the areas it had identified for three days. For Taiwan and the US military, the key question will be whether they will follow orders or test China’s resolve to carry out tests by sending ships and aircraft into the zones. that area or not.

The stagnation is reminiscent of an incident in 1995 and 1996 known as the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis. Back then,

China fired live ammunition and missiles into the waters around Taiwan to show its anger over the visit of then-Taiwan President Li Teng-hui to the United States. The United States then sent two carrier battle groups to the area and sailed one through the Taiwan Strait.

New live-fire exercises will take place in areas closer to the island than in 1995 and 1996, posing a conundrum for Taiwan and the United States. If China takes action, it must decide whether to issue a show of force similar to the previous crisis.

There have been many changes since then. China’s military is stronger and more consolidated under leader Xi Jinping. This summer, Chinese officials also strongly asserted that no part of the Taiwan Strait could be considered international waters, meaning they could conduct interception and interception of warships. The US passes through this area, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

China wasted very little time signaling that it was serious. On Wednesday, its state broadcaster released images from preparation exercises in the region showing Chinese forces north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan for practice. sea ​​and land attacks, air combat and “joint deterrence”.

Also on Wednesday, Taiwan’s military sought to keep the line, signaling that it did not want the situation to escalate. Calling the drills a blockade, they said the drills intruded into Taiwan’s territorial waters and jeopardized international waterways and regional security.

“We resolutely defend national sovereignty and will resist any aggression against national sovereignty,” Major General Sun Li-fang, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, said in advance. combat training.

He added: “We will increase our vigilance with a reasonable attitude so as not to escalate the conflict.

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