After several threatening military exercises from China, Taiwan launched its own military exercises Wednesday. The move was an attempt by the self-governing island to show its ability to resist Chinese pressure.
The Wednesday exercises were off the eastern area of Hualien. They follow days of Chinese missile firings and advances into Taiwan’s sea and airspace by ships and planes from the People’s Liberation Army. That is the military arm of China’s ruling Communist Party.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang condemned Chinese military activities as hurting peace in the area. Sun added that “Communist China’s military operations just provide us with the opportunity for combat-readiness training.”
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said China was using recent visits by U.S. Congress members including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a justification for its military threats.
She said China is trying to scare Taiwan into accepting what it calls its terms for “peaceful reunification." But it “interferes with shipping and commercial activities in the Indo-Pacific region.”
China sees the island as part of its territory to be taken over by force if necessary. It considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its independence.
Alongside its military threats, China imposed visa bans and other sanctions Tuesday on Taiwanese politicians. China has no legal power over Taiwan, and it is unclear what effect the sanctions would have.
China has refused all contact with Taiwan’s government since shortly after the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Tsai was reelected in 2020.
The DPP also controls the legislature. A large majority of Taiwanese favor keeping Taiwan’s current structure of self-governance with strong economic and social connections with China.
China accuses the U.S. of supporting the island’s independence through the sale of weapons and meetings with U.S. politicians and the island’s government. The U.S. says it does not support independence and has no formal diplomatic ties with the island. But it is legally required to help defend Taiwan against threats from China.
Aside from warning its military, Taiwan has largely played down the threat from the Chinese exercises. Life has continued as normal among its population of 23 million. Taiwan has lived with China’s vocal and military threats for more than 70 years.
I’m Dan Novak.
Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.
Words in This Story
opportunity — n. an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done
reunify — v. to make something, such as a divided country whole again
region — n. a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way
sanction — n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc.
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