China staging drills around Taiwan after Pelosi visit
Beijing: China is staging live-fire military drills in six self-declared zones surrounding Taiwan in response to a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island Beijing claims as its own territory. China has warned aircraft and ships to avoid the areas during the exercises, which run through Sunday. The drills appear to be a rehearsal for a potential blockade and invasion of the island that would almost certainly draw in Taiwan's chief supporter, the United States, along with American allies including Japan and Australia. China's 2 million-strong military is the world's largest and its navy has more ships than the U.S. Taiwan's armed forces can't compare in numbers, but it has vowed to resist coercive measures to impose Chinese Communist Party rule over the self-governing island democracy. “It will take some hard diplomacy to reestablish a stable equilibrium," said Stanford University political scientist Kharis Templeman. “I don't know how this confrontation will ultimately play out, but I think we are in for a rocky few weeks." The following is a look at the issues surrounding the escalation of tensions. WHAT IS CHINA DOING IN SEAS AND SKIES AROUND TAIWAN? China says it has begun exercises involving warplanes, navy ships and missile strikes in six zones surrounding Taiwan. Those lie as little as 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the island's coast, potentially infringing on Taiwan's territorial waters. Few details have been given by Beijing, but it has described the drills as punishment for the U.S. Allowing Pelosi's visit to proceed, even though President Joe Biden did not have the authority to prevent her travelling to the island. Live-fire exercises are a test of a military's ability to perform missions under conditions most resembling actual warfare. In this case, they are designed to show the level of force China could unleash against Taiwan if Beijing decided to make good on the pledge to seize control of the island and punish those supporting its independence. The exercises are thought to be the largest and most threatening toward Taiwan since Beijing launched missiles into waters north and south of the island in 1995 and 1996 in response to a visit to the U.S. By then-President Lee Teng-hui. China regularly sends warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone and has at times crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait dividing the sides, but has stopped short of direct incursions or attacks that could spark a regional conflict.