Taiwan crisis: China defends calling off US military talks as exercises set to resume

China’s defence ministry defended its shelving of military talks with the United States in protest against Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last week, as its military said it would continue drills around Taiwan on Monday.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted online that it would practise anti-submarine attacks and sea raids on Monday, following four days of unprecedented drills around the self-ruled island.

Defence ministry spokesperson Wu Qian defended the decision to suspend military channels, saying in an online post on Monday: “The current tense situation in the Taiwan Strait is entirely provoked and created by the US side on its own initiative, and the US side must bear full responsibility and serious consequences for this.

“The bottom line cannot be broken, and communication requires sincerity,” Wu said.

Pelosi’s visit last week infuriated China, which regards Taiwan as its own and responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington.

Four days of drills had been scheduled to end on Sunday but Chinese authorities did not officially confirm it, sparking fears among some security analysts that the situation in the Taiwan Strait, particularly near the unofficial median line buffer, could escalate further.

About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan manoeuvreed at close quarters around the line on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the situation who is involved with security planning.

The island’s defence ministry said Chinese military ships, aircraft, and drones had simulated attacks on the island and its navy. It said it had sent aircraft and ships to react “appropriately“.

China called off formal talks involving theatre-level commands, defence policy coordination and military maritime consultations on Friday as Pelosi left the region.

Pentagon, state department and White House officials condemned the move, describing it as an irresponsible overreaction.

China’s cutting of some of its few communication links with the US military raises the risk of an accidental escalation over Taiwan at a critical moment, according to security analysts and diplomats.

One US official noted that Chinese officials had not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials amid the tensions last week, but that they did not see this as a formal severing of ties with senior figures, such as US defence secretary Lloyd Austin.

Asked directly about those reports, Wu said: “China’s relevant countermeasures are a necessary warning to the provocations of the United States and Taiwan, and a legitimate defence of national sovereignty and security.”

The Guardian

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