China has ramped up its military drills in Taiwan’s waters and announced sanctions against US Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as tensions build between Beijing and Washington.
Beijing branded the visit as a “gross interference” in its internal affairs, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the military response to the trip “flagrantly provocative”.
Ms Pelosi’s visit prompted China to carry out military drills across seven zones around the island, with more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships taking part in the past two days.
US national security spokesman John Kirby said China’s ambassador has been summoned to the White House to lodge a protest against the country’s military actions.
He added that although the US does not want a crisis, it will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the western Pacific.
Taiwan to defend national security with ‘firm action’
The military drills have caused concern in Taiwan, as the defence ministry has warned China that it will defend its national security with “firm action”.
It added that China deliberately crossed the Taiwan median line, which separates the self-ruled island from China.
Retired air vice-marshall Sean Bell described Beijing’s exercises as a “ring of steel” around the island.
He said any drills in Taiwan’s territorial waters could be “extremely provocative” if anything goes wrong due to live weapons being used close to the island nation’s mainland.
While Taiwan declares itself an independent, democratic country with its own leader, constitution, political system and military, China sees it as a breakaway province that will eventually come back under its control – by force if necessary.
The military drills have also caused disruption to shipping lanes around Taiwan and airlines running flights near and around the island, causing some to cancel while others re-route.
Korean Airlines and Singapore Airlines said they had cancelled flights to and from Taipei on Friday due to the exercises, with the Korean carrier also cancelling its Saturday flights and delaying Sunday flights.
Images from flight tracking service FlightRadar24 shows live flights avoiding the seven zones where military drills are taking place.