Nancy Pelosi meets Taiwan president as Beijing announces first retaliation

“We come as friends to Taiwan, we come in peace to the region,” said this Wednesday, August 3 Nancy Pelosi, the highest American official to visit Taiwan for 25 years, upon her arrival. However, the area is under maximum tension: the democratic island, which lives under the constant threat of an invasion by Beijing, sees itself imposing the first sanctions linked to the displacement of the President of the American House of Representatives.

“Today, our delegation […] came to Taiwan to say unequivocally that we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and that we are proud of our enduring friendship”said Nancy Pelosi at an event with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

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The latter also affirmed that the island “wouldn’t back down” fagainst the threat from China. “In the face of deliberately increased military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” reacted Tsai Ing Wen. ” We’re going […] continue to defend democracy”she said during her meeting with Nancy Pelosi, whom she thanked for having “took concrete steps to show [son] unwavering support for Taiwan at this critical time”.

“Targeted military actions”

The American official arrived in Taipei on Tuesday evening on board an American military plane, immediately triggering strong reactions in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced “a serious violation” American commitments vis-à-vis China, which “seriously undermines peace and stability” regional.

The Chinese government summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns on Tuesday evening. Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng expressed to him the “firm protests” of his country, adding that “the initiative [de Nancy Pelosi de se rendre à Taïwan] is extremely shocking and the consequences will be very serious”according to the New China agency.

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The Chinese Ministry of Defense meanwhile promised “targeted military actions”with a series of military maneuvers around the island starting on Wednesday, including “long-range live ammunition firing” in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China.

According to the coordinates published by the Chinese army, part of the military operations will take place 20 kilometers from the coast of Taiwan. “Some of China’s maneuver areas encroach on […] the territorial waters of Taiwan”said Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang. “This is an irrational act aimed at challenging the international order”he denounced.

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Economic sanctions

Beijing’s commerce ministry also announced economic sanctions, announcing a suspension of the export to Taiwan of natural sand – a key component in the manufacture of semiconductors, one of the island’s top exports. The Chinese customs administration has also decided to suspend the import of citrus fruits and certain fish from Taiwan, claiming to have detected “repeatedly” a type of mealy bug on citrus and having recorded excessive levels of pesticides. Packages containing two types of fish also tested positive for coronavirus, she said.

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Taiwan authorities further reported overnight Tuesday-Wednesday that 21 Chinese military aircraft had entered the island’s air defense identification zone – an area much larger than its airspace. The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense denounced “an attempt to threaten our ports and important urban areas, and unilaterally undermine regional peace and stability”. Before adding:

“The army will definitely stay in place and protect national security. We ask the public to be reassured and to support the army”

Several American ships also cruise in the region, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, according to American military sources. Most observers rate the likelihood of armed conflict as low. But US officials said they were preparing for shows of force from the Chinese military.

” Play with fire “

China considers that Taiwan, with its 23 million inhabitants, is one of its provinces, which it has not yet succeeded in attaching to the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese civil war (1949).

Opposed to any initiative giving the Taiwanese authorities international legitimacy, Beijing is against any official contact between Taiwan and other countries. US officials visit the island regularly. But China judges that a visit by Nancy Pelosi, 82, the third figure in the American state, is a major provocation. Last week, in a telephone conversation with his American counterpart Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping had already called on the United States not to “don’t play with fire”.

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Since 1979, Washington has recognized only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide support to the Taiwanese authorities, in particular via major arms sales. The United States also practices “strategic ambiguity”refraining from saying whether or not they would militarily defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion.

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Russia, a major ally of China, on Tuesday accused the Americans of “destabilize the world” and describes Nancy Pelosi’s visit as a “sheer provocation”. Another ally of Beijing, North Korea has expressed its “full support”.

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