China announced Monday its military is extending exercises around Taiwan as concerns mount about a potential conflict in the region.
The exercises would include anti-submarine drills, which appear to target U.S. support for Taiwan should China invade the island, according to social media posts from the People’s Liberation Army.
The Chinese military has said the exercises featuring missile strikes, warplanes and ship movements crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait separating the regions were conducted because of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week.
China has dismissed calls to ease tensions, and it gave no immediate indication of when it would end the blockade.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said Sunday it had detected 66 aircraft and 14 warships carrying out the exercises. The island responded by placing its military on alert and deploying ships, aircraft and other assets to keep eyes on Chinese planes, ships and drones that are “simulating attacks on the island of Taiwan and our ships at sea.”
And according to the island’s official Central News Agency, Taiwan’s army will respond to the Chinese exercises by conducting live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday.
Taiwan’s drills will feature snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles and attack helicopters.
China views Taiwan as part of its own territory. Taiwan and China separated in the late 1940s after the communists won a civil war on the mainland. Both sides agree they are one country but disagree when it comes to which government is entitled to national leadership.
Still, China sees visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its sovereignty. Beijing has threatened to annex the island by force if it believes such action is required.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
The Group of Seven has called out China for its actions, leading Beijing to cancel a meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi.
In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China has ended defense and climate talks with the U.S. and levied sanctions against the speaker.
The Biden administration and Pelosi have each stated that the U.S. remains committed to the One China policy, recognizing Beijing as the government of China while still maintaining informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan.
But The U.S. still slammed China’s exercises in the Taiwan Strait. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre called them “fundamentally irresponsible” and said there is “no need and no reason for this escalation.”
Taiwan’s top U.S. ambassador Bi-khim Hsiao said in a recent interview that China did not have a reason to “be so furious” over Pelosi’s visit, noting that the island has welcomed U.S. lawmakers for decades.
“We have been living under the threat from China for decades,” Hsiao said on Sunday. “And we cannot let their ongoing threats define our desire to make friends internationally. If you have a kid being bullied at school, you don’t say you don’t go to school. You try to find a way to deal with the bully.”
And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a visit to Myanmar that the U.S. was “taking the opportunity to build up its military deployment in the region, which deserves high vigilance and resolute boycott from all sides.”
“China’s firm stance” is aimed at “earnestly safeguarding peace across the Taiwan Strait and regional stability,” Wang said, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.