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Taiwan preps as China intensifies military activity around the island

Taiwan is on edge, air raid shelters have been prepared

USA-CHINA/TAIWAN A model of the Chinese fighter aircraft is seen in front of Chinese and Taiwanese flags | Reuters

Amid rising tensions with China, Taiwan stressed that it will "uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes". This comnes amid the Chinese military conducting a series of naval-air joint drills around Taiwan amid speculation that it may be attempting a blockade of the island nation—retaliation against the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

The drills featured the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Joint Logistic Support Force in the sea and air space north, southwest and southeast of the Taiwan island, the Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) said.

The PLA will also conduct live-fire military drills from August 4 to 7 in six different areas that encircle the island of Taiwan from all directions, official media reports said.

Taiwan is on edge, air raid shelters have been prepared and the government is increasing training for recruits serving their four months of required military service generally considered inadequate along with annual two-week annual refresher courses for reservists.

The timing of the visit may have added to the tensions. It came ahead of this year's Chinese Communist Party's Congress at which President Xi Jinping will try to further cement his power, using a hard line on Taiwan to blunt domestic criticism on COVID-19, the economy and other issues.

Summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear China's complaints, US Ambassador Nicholas Burns insisted that the visit was nothing but routine. The United States will not escalate and stands ready to work with China to prevent escalation altogether, Burns said, according to the State Department.

The White House also said that Pelosi's visit doesn't change anything about the US posture toward China and Taiwan. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US had expected the harsh reaction from China, even as she called it unwarranted. "We are going to monitor, and we will manage what Beijing chooses to do," she added. Alarmed by the possibility of a new geo-strategic conflict at the same time the West sides with Ukraine in its resistance to Russia's invasion, the US has rallied allies to its side.


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