The visit of a senior US official to Taipei raises the tension between China and Taiwan

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Beijing begins military exercises in the vicinity of the self-governing island

The military tension between China and Taiwan has risen several degrees, following the visit of a senior US official to Taipei. In a notice to Washington and to the Government of President Tsai Ing-wen, Beijing began military exercises with live fire on Friday near the island; The Taiwanese Army has detected 18 Chinese military aircraft in its aerial identification zone and has responded with the deployment of several fighters.

The Chinese Defense Ministry had described the maneuvers of its Eastern Command, which will continue over the next few days, as “a legitimate and necessary action.” “It is taken in response to the current situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard the sovereignty and national integrity of our nation,” he added.

The explicit assertion sends an unsubtle warning. China carries out military exercises frequently, and this year it has multiplied them, until several simultaneously in different regions. But usually he claims that they are mere training exercises and that they are not directed against anyone or any particular territory.

“Those who play with fire end up burning,” said Chinese Defense spokesman Ren Guoqiang, who has warned the United States against any temptation to “play the Taiwan card to contain China.”

Taiwan, where Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Army took refuge in 1949 after its defeat in the civil war, and China, under the communist regime, have had separate governments for more than 70 years. But Beijing considers the island an inalienable part of its territory and does not renounce a unification by force. Visits by foreign politicians to Taipei often elicit strong condemnatory reactions from the Chinese government, especially from US officials. Now, even more so, given the drastic deterioration in bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing, accelerated since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Relations between Beijing and Taipei are also at a low level since the re-election, in January, of Tsai Ing-wen, of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and who has promised a policy of distancing from mainland China.

“Recently, the United States and the PDP authorities have strengthened their relationship and caused frequent incidents. It does not matter if its objective is to counter China or to raise the status of the PDP, it does not correspond to reality and is destined to end in a dead end, “said the Chinese defense spokesman.

This Friday, Undersecretary of State Keith Krach, the second-highest US official to visit Taiwan since in 1979 Washington and Beijing completed the normalization of their diplomatic relations, and the United States stopped officially recognizing the island government, landed in Taipei. In August, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, already traveled to Taipei.

Krach was scheduled to meet with President Tsai and, this Saturday, lay a wreath before the ashes of Lee Teng-Hui, the leader who introduced the democratic system on the island and who passed away last July.

In a statement, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported that Chinese aircraft, including two bombers and eight J-16 fighters, had crossed the dividing line of the Taiwan Strait. In response, the Army of the self-governed island “launched several fighters urgently and deployed its missile system for air defense.”

In a statement, the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense issued an appeal to China to contain it “and not to aggravate the differences between the parties. The intimidations of a military nature provoke resentment among citizens ”.

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