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China's Xi Jinping Orders Live Military Drills Near Taiwan As Tensions Rise

Live-fire drills will be held and waters near Pingtan in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian province will be sealed from 8 am to 9 pm on Saturday at Pingtan.

China

IMAGE: AP


Chinese authoritarian leader Xi Jinping ordered The People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces to kick start live military drills near Taiwan as tensions have risen to an all-time high ahead of the speculated visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-administered island Taiwan. PLA is expected to start the military exercises that will involve artillery fire in a show of power in the disputed waters near Pingtan [or Fuzhou Haitan Island] in Fujian province whose shoreline is separated by the contentious Taiwan strait where the PLA Air Force makes repeated air incursions.

The region has been the relic of the decades-long Cold War between the mainland and Taiwan. 

“Live-fire drills will be held and waters near Pingtan in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian province will be sealed from 8 am to 9 pm on Saturday at Pingtan, located125 kilometres (over 77 miles) from Taiwan," Beijing's state-affiliated press said, citing the Chinese Defense Ministry's statement. 

Unidentified drones fly over Dongyin Island

The official announcement of the Chinese military drills was followed by the navigation warnings issued by the Pingtan Maritime Safety Administration, which advised all vessels against entering waters near the island and the southeastern province of Fujian. Tensions have been brewing with the United States over the highest-ranking American official House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island nation. Chinese leader Xi Jinping recently warned US President Joe Biden in a candid phone call: "If you play with fire you get burned." Xi also told Biden to avoid “external interference” in its relations with Taiwan. 

China's Ministry of Defense has warned the US that it will not allow Pelosi to set foot on the island nation and that if the warnings went unheeded, it will resort to "countermeasures" that will have unimaginable consequences. As China traded barbs with Washington, the latter mobilised an aircraft carrier, a guided missile destroyer, and a guided missile cruiser in the direction of an unknown location.

Ship-tracking information published by Beijing-based think tank South China Sea Strategic Probing Initiative revealed that the US-flagged aircraft carrier was headed towards the sensitive and contentious hotspot, the Taiwan strait. Ronald Reagan Strike Group which operates under the US 7th Fleet area of operations quietly sailed to an unidentified destination in the northeast headed towards Taiwan.  

Taiwan's Defense Ministry, separately informed that unidentified drones have been spotted flying over Dongyin Island as tensions spilled in the Asian region. PLA also flew several fighter jets and bombers toward the Taiwan Strait. Pentagon has been working on a security plan that will include the US warships and aircraft to stand ready in case any harm is caused during Pelosi's yet unconfirmed visit. 

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