China’s military rehearsed an attack on Taiwan Saturday as tensions continued to boil following a visit to the island earlier in the week by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The live-fire exercises by Chinese aircraft and warships, which began Thursday, are expected to last through Sunday.
Taiwan’s defense ministry detected “multiple batches of communist planes and ships conducting activities around the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the median line,” the South China Morning Post reported. The median line is an unofficial separation between the two sides.
The defense ministry published a photo of a Taiwanese sailor on a frigate looking at a nearby Chinese warship off Taiwan’s east coast. “Absolutely not photoshopped!,” the caption said.
Beijing also halted communications while they conducted the exercises, including military-to-military channels that Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “vital for avoiding miscommunication and avoiding crisis.”
Blinken spoke Philippines, where he met with new president Ferdinand Marcos Jr..
“What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways it affects the entire world because the Strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” he said.
Nearly half of the world’s container fleet and almost 90% of the world’s largest ships travel through the waterway, he said.
China should not hold up talks and other cooperation on important global matters including climate, transnational crimes and counter narcotics over Pelosi’s visit, Blinken added.
“We should not hold hostage cooperation on matters of global concern because of differences between our two countries,” Blinken said. “Others are rightly expecting us to continue to work on issues that matter to the lives and livelihood of their people as well as our own.”
The US does not want to escalate the situation, Blinken told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Friday. The two met in Cambodia at an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“We seek to deescalate those tensions and we think dialogues are a very important element of that,” Blinken said, adding the U.S. would “keep our channels of communication with China open with the intent of avoiding escalation to the misunderstanding or miscommunication.”
Separately, the deputy head of Taiwan defense ministry’s research and development unit was found dead in a hotel room in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, where he was on a business trip. The Guardian reported Ou Yang Li-hsing, 57, died of a heart attack.