Chinese military exercises breach Taiwan’s territory, defense minister says

Chinese military exercises near Taiwan have encroached on its territory and amount to a blockade of its sea and airspace, the defence ministry has said.

The exercises by the Chinese navy and air force are seen as a direct response to the 24-hour visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most senior American lawmaker to visit the island in 25 years.

The Taiwan Defence Ministry said China had broken UN rules and it would counter any incursions into its territory.

It said the live-fire exercises in the sea and airspace around Taiwan were “endangering international shipping lanes, challenging the international order, undermining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and endangering the area”.

And it accused Beijing of using psychological warfare, urging people to report “fake news” to the authorities.

Taiwan has asked ships to find alternative routes and to avoid the Chinese drill areas for the next four days – from midday on Thursday until the same time on Sunday.

Ms Pelosi had earlier praised Taiwan for being “one of the freest societies in the world” as she addressed the self-ruled island’s parliament during the visit that has infuriated Beijing.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” she said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, in the capital Taipei on Wednesday.

She added: “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

Ms Tsai thanked Ms Pelosi for her concrete actions to support Taiwan and said the island will not back down in the face of heightened military threats.

The Taiwanese leader also told Ms Pelosi she is one of the island’s most devoted friends and thanked her for her unwavering support on the international stage.

Ms Tsai added that Taiwan is a reliable partner of the United States and will continue to work with them to strengthen collaboration in security, economic development and supply chains.

The US house speaker’s unannounced visit to Taiwan has attracted fierce criticism from China and prompted Beijing to summon the US ambassador.

Ms Pelosi arrived in Taipei late on Tuesday, saying that the visit showed the unwavering US commitment to the island that Beijing says is part of China.