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China concludes major military exercises near Taiwan

The largest military exercises in Chinese history around Taiwan were winding down on Sunday following a controversial visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.

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Beijing was furious at Pelosi’s trip—the most senior elected American representative to visit Taiwan in decades —tearing apart a series of talks and cooperative agreements with Washington, particularly with respect to climate change and defense.

It has also deployed fighter jets, warships, and ballistic missiles around Taiwan, which analysts have described as a practice of blocking and invading the island. Those exercises were supposed to end Sunday, but Beijing did not confirm its conclusion.

Taiwan Ministry of Transport declared six of the seven “temporary danger zones” China had warned airlines to avoid ceasing to be in force by noon on Sunday, reporting partial lowering of drills. It said the seventh zone, in the waters east of Taiwan, would remain in effect until 10h (0200 GMT) local time on Monday.

“The relevant flights and sails can gradually resume,” stated the ministry in a statement.

Taipei said that certain routes were still affected in the seventh zone, and the authorities would continue to monitor the movements of ships there.

Beijing has also announced new exercises in the Yellow Sea, between China and the Korean Peninsula, until August 15.

Earlier Sunday, Beijing conducted “exercises in the sea and airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan as planned”, the Eastern Command of the Chinese Military said.

Taipei’s defense ministry has confirmed that China has sent “planes, ships, and drones… staging attacks on Taiwan’s main island and ships in our waters”.

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Beijing also sent drones above Taiwan’s outer islands, it added.

‘Undermining’ peace

In response, Taiwan said it had mobilized a “joint surveillance and reconnaissance system to closely monitor the enemy situation” as well as the deployment of aircraft and vessels.

Su Tseng-chang, Prime Minister of Taiwan, said China is “barbarously using military action” to disrupt peace in the Taiwan Strait.

We urge the Chinese government not to exercise its military power, not to show its strength everywhere, and not to endanger peace in the region,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Taipei’s ministry of foreign affairs stated that the exercises were threatening “the region, even the world”.

An anonymous opinion article published by state broadcaster CCTV said that after these exercises, the Chinese army would be able to stage “regular” training exercises east of the center line.

This line is an unofficial delimitation in the Taiwan Strait that Beijing does not recognize. To show how close it is to the coast of Taiwan, the Chinese military published a video of an air force pilot filming the coast and mountains of the island from his cockpit.

The Eastern Command also shared a photo that it said was of a warship patrolling with the coast of Taiwan visible in the background.

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