China slams US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to island state as threat to peace in Taiwan Strait, responding with flurry of military exercises and announcing suspension of several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
Chinese military drills encircling Taiwan are threatening the island's key ports and urban areas, Taipei's Defence Ministry has said, as China furious over senior US officials' visit to the island state bans sand export to Taiwan and suspends some imports as well.
"The Defence Ministry has closely monitored and strengthened preparations, and will respond appropriately in due time," the ministry said on Wednesday while accusing the Chinese military of violating UN rules and "invading" Taiwan's territorial space.
"Some of the areas of China's drills breach into... (Taiwan's) territorial waters," Defence Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang said at a press conference. "This is an irrational move to challenge the international order."
Alleging Chinese drills amounted to a blockade of its air and sea, the ministry said the island will firmly defend its security, counter any move that violates territorial sovereignty and enhance its alertness level with the principle of not asking for war.
"The military will definitely stick to its posts and protect national security. We ask the public to rest assured and support the military," the ministry said.
Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said China's notice that aircraft should not enter drill areas in waters near the island is a provocation that challenges international order, and Taiwan will stay in contact with countries including the United States to avoid escalating tensions.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the island would "not back down" as a furious China geared up for military drills in retaliation for the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down. We will... continue to hold the line of defence for democracy," Tsai said at an event with Pelosi in Taipei.
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Beijing's retaliatory measures
China's leaders have expressed fury at the visit of Pelosi to Taiwan, calling it a provocation that threatens the fragile cross-strait status quo.
In response, China has announced a series of live-fire military exercises around Taiwan, with the Eastern Theatre Command saying that "joint naval and air exercises will be conducted in the northern, southwestern, and southeastern sea and airspaces" of the island.
The drills include "long-range live ammunition shooting" in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China.
At some points, the zone of Chinese operations will come within 20 kilometres of Taiwan's shoreline, according to coordinates shared by the People's Liberation Army.
Beijing considers Taiwan as its province and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
With the risk of conflict or miscalculation rising, officials from outgunned Taiwan have tried to appear resolute to preserve public calm.
Taiwan's cabinet said the military has increased its alertness level and authorities will make plans to ensure safety and stability around the island.
Meanwhile, Beijing's Commerce Ministry announced retaliatory economic measures, saying it would suspend the export to Taiwan of natural sand –– a key component in the manufacturing of semiconductors, one of the island's main exports.
China said it is suspending imports of citrus fruits, chilled white striped hairtail and frozen horse mackerel from Taiwan.
Beijing said it will take disciplinary actions against two Taiwan foundations, banning them from financially cooperating with mainland companies and individuals, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson of China's Taiwan Affairs Office said.
The two foundations are Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund, Ma said.
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Pelosi on chip industry
Earlier on Wednesday, Pelosi thanked Taiwan's president for her leadership and called for increased inter-parliamentary cooperation.
"We commend Taiwan for being one of the freest societies in the world," Pelosi told Taiwan's parliament.
She also said new US legislation aimed at strengthening the American chip industry to compete with China "offers greater opportunity for US-Taiwan economic cooperation."
Beijing considers Taiwan as its inseparable part, but the latter has maintained its self-rule since 1949 and enjoys diplomatic ties with at least 14 countries.
Interactions between Washington and Taipei have grown significantly since the tenure of former US president Donald Trump, with former and sitting lawmakers making trips to the island home to more than 25 million people.
The US formally recognised China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, and accepted Taiwan as part of the mainland under Washington's One China policy.
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