China starts fresh exercises while Taiwan sees no risk of invasion

China's drills around Taiwan in response to Nancy Pelosi's visit are continuing. In four days, 110 aircraft and 41 Navy ships maneuvered near the island. About 11 ballistic missiles were fired. Taiwan reacts with artillery exercises. Most Taiwanese expected a strong response from the mainland.

Taipei (AsiaNews) – China announced fresh military exercises near Taiwan. Last Thursday, it began a four-day drill in six areas around the island in response to the visit by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the island.

China has not said how long the new manoeuvres will last or where they will take place; however, the Taiwanese government relaxed recent restrictions on air and maritime traffic near the areas chosen by Beijing for its drill.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry reported that in four days, 110 Chinese warplanes flew into Taiwan’s defensive air zone and beyond the midline in the Taiwan Strait, which informally divides the waterway between the two sides.

Some 41 Chinese Navy ship also crossed the median line firing 11 ballistic missiles into designated areas.

Nevertheless, the Taiwanese government pointed out that Chinese aircraft and ships never violated its airspace and territorial waters.

With these exercises, the Chinese effectively closed off the Strait for days, as well as simulated a military blockade of the island.

According to Taiwan, mainland China also carried out an invasion scenario. Taiwanese authorities reacted by announcing three days of artillery drills starting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the mood on the island itself remains largely calm. Most Taiwanese expected a strong response from Communist China to Pelosi's visit,

“Of course, people compare it with the 1995-96 crisis and might conclude that we are facing a more challenging environment,” said Marc Cheng, executive director of the European Union Centre in Taipei, speaking to AsiaNews.

However, the situation on the island will depend on the duration and scope of China’s exercises. For now, “people still have confidence that any further military operations benefits no one,” Cheng added.

Fausto Chou, journalist and editor-in-chief of Eat News, agrees. In his view, the island is safe for now. In fact, “All embassies and offices in Taiwan have not issued ‘special warnings’ to their citizens in Taiwan that they need to evacuate, which means that the chance of a Communist China invasion of Taiwan is relatively low.”