By John Ikani
China’s military on Wednesday announced the completion of its exercises in areas encircling Taiwan that began last week in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled democratic island.
In a brief statement, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command says its series of joint military operations in the sea and airspace around Taiwan had “successfully completed various tasks and effectively tested the integrated combat capabilities of the troops”.
It added that it would continue to monitor any changes in the Taiwan Strait and regularly conduct patrols in the waters, fueling speculation that Beijing may be seeking to normalize its military pressure in the area.
While PLA Eastern Theater announced that they have finished their joint military operation and will conduct routine patrol, #ROCArmedForces will adjust how we deploy our forces considering multiple factors including troop morale and threats, without letting our guard down.
— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) August 10, 2022
China, furious at a visit to Taipei last week by Ms Pelosi, had extended its largest-ever exercises around the self-ruled island it claims as its own beyond the originally scheduled four days.
Pelosi made the visit despite Beijing’s warnings that the island is a “breakaway province” and that her visit would be in violation of the country’s “one-China policy.”
She said her visit showed unwavering US commitment to supporting Taiwan’s democracy.
China says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and it reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.
Taiwan rejects China’s claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
The drills last week included ballistic missile launches, some of which flew over the island’s capital Taipei, and simulated sea and air attacks in the skies and waters around Taiwan.
Wednesday’s announcement came hours after China released a White Paper refusing to rule out the use of force to unify Taiwan with the mainland.
However, it added that China will “work with great sincerity to achieve peaceful unification.”