Relations between China and the United States are far from calm with a new episode of tension between the two powers. And as often, these have crystallized around Taiwan. Beijing has thus just launched, this Saturday, military maneuvers near the island, with the dispatch of maritime and air patrols and incursions into its air defense identification zone, as reported by AFP.
According to the official New China agency, these maneuvers are intended to test the capacity of Chinese ships and planes. “to take control of air and sea space” and to fight “under real conditions”. Taiwan said it detected 42 incursions by Chinese military aircraft into its defense zone on Saturday morning, adding that eight Chinese ships also took part in the maneuvers. Among these incursions, 26 military aircraft crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait which separates the People’s Republic of China from the small island state, the island’s defense ministry said in a statement.
These Chinese incursions into the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone are not uncommon, however, with Beijing using them as a means of international pressure. This zone, in which any foreign aircraft is supposed to report to the local air authorities, is much larger than the airspace of a country. That of Taiwan overlaps part of that of China and even includes a portion of the mainland.
A stopover that makes a lot of noise
This show of force comes after the stopover in the United States of the vice-president of the island, William Lai, who stopped in New York last Saturday and in San Francisco on Friday on his return from a trip to Paraguay. According to Chinese state media, it is “stern warnings about the collusion of Taiwan separatists with foreign elements and their provocations” sent by China, which opposes any official contact between Western countries and Taiwan, which it considers to be one of its provinces.
Beijing had already reacted with anger following American stops by the Taiwanese leader, who is moreover a favorite of the Taiwanese presidential election next year, a fervent opponent of Beijing’s claims on the island and widely considered pro-Washington. And an official from the Chinese Communist Party office in charge of Taiwan issues again “strongly condemned” this trip to New China, stating that “Mr. Lai’s last stop (…) was a cover-up he used to sell Taiwan’s interests in order to secure gains in local elections through dishonest manoeuvres” and “Mr. Lai’s actions have proven that he is a real troublemaker who will push Taiwan to the brink of war and cause serious problems for Taiwan compatriots”.
Taiwan, for its part, strongly condemned “this irrational and provocative behavior” and promised to send “the appropriate forces to respond (…) in order to defend the freedom, democracy and sovereignty of Taiwan”. In a statement, the island’s Ministry of National Defense said that “conducting a military exercise (…) under a false pretense not only does not contribute to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, but also highlights the (Chinese) militarist mentality and confirms the nature hegemony of its military expansion. »
united front in washington
Washington had called for calm about the trip of William Lai, who according to Taiwanese authorities was only “transit” American soil before traveling to Paraguay to attend the inauguration of President-elect Santiago Peña.
This episode also comes as Joe Biden has just welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to Camp David, near Washington, for a summit he called “of history”. And if the President of the United States has brought together these two other Pacific powers despite their historically cold relations, it is above all to send a firm message of unity in the face of China.
“This summit was not dedicated to China”assured Joe Biden, but he recognized that “China (had) obviously been a subject”. He thus announced that the three countries would consult each other systematically and ” quickly “ in the future against « menaces » aiming at them.
In a joint statement released on Friday, the United States, Japan and South Korea condemned the “dangerous and aggressive behavior” and the “illegal maritime claims” of China, against a backdrop of tensions between Beijing and the Philippines over a disputed atoll. In this common text, baptized “Spirit of Camp David”they add : “We reaffirm the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. »
The American president, who recently called the world’s second power ” time bomb “ referring to his economic and demographic situation, nevertheless assures that he still hopes to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ” this autumn “.
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