In response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing on Friday cancelled efforts to keep communication channels open between Chinese and US military commanders.
It’s feared that this raises the risk of an accidental escalation in tensions. Reuters has published some analysis on this:
Christopher Twomey, a security scholar at the US Naval Postgraduate School in California, told Reuters the severing of the communication links was worrying, coming at what he believed was the beginning of a new Taiwan crisis.
“That is precisely the time you would want to have more opportunities to talk to the other side … Losing those channels greatly reduces the ability of the two sides to de-conflict military forces as various exercises and operations continue.”
As Chinese warships, fighter jets and drones manoeuvre around Taiwan, at least four powerful U.S. vessels, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli and the guided missile cruiser USS Antietam are east of Taiwan, Reuters has confirmed.
Bonnie Glaser, a Washington-based security analyst with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said, more broadly, prospects were “extremely low for holding talks on risk reduction measures or stability”. Over time, she said she expected the specific talks called off this week would resume but “right now, China has to signal toughness and resolve”.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Chinese officials had not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials this week but that was seen as China showing displeasure over Pelosi’s trip rather than the severing of the channel between senior defence officials, including U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Austin pushed for improved communication between the rival forces when met Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe on the sidelines of Shangri-la Dialogue security meeting in Singapore in June.
Both Asian and Western diplomats said US military chiefs had been pushing for more frequent theatre-level command talks for some time, given China’s growing deployments across Asia, where the US navy has traditionally been the dominant power.
The Pentagon said on Friday that China was overreacting and the US was still open to building crisis communication mechanisms.
The deputy head of Taiwan defence ministry’s research and development unit has been found dead in a hotel in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, according to the official Central News Agency.
Ou Yang Li-hsing, deputy head of the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, was 57. The cause of his death is unknown, CNA reported.
Ou Yang, who was in charge of various missile production projects, had been on a business trip to Pingtung.
The military-owned body is working to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year, as the island boosts its combat power amid what it sees as China’s growing military threat, according to Reuters.
Agence France-Presse is reporting some more lines from North Korea’s comments on Pelosi’s trip to Asia.
She visited Seoul and the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, or Joint Security Area between the two Koreas, earlier this week. Pelosi and her South Korean counterpart, National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo, called for “strong and extended deterrence against North Korea”, and vowed to support efforts by Washington and Seoul to achieve Pyongyang’s denuclearisation.
The North on Saturday denounced Pelosi for her discussions with Kim and her visit to the JSA and Taiwan, reports AFP:
On top of the deterrence talks, Pelosi “made her appearance even in the joint security area of Panmunjom, utterly betraying the vision of the hostile policy of the current US administration towards the DPRK,” said Jo Yong Sam, an official at North Korea’s foreign ministry, using the North’s official name.
“The US is just adding fuel to the fire,” Jo added in a statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency. China is the North’s key ally and trade partner, and Pyongyang also lashed out at Pelosi over her visit to Taiwan.
“Pelosi, the worst destroyer of international peace and stability… incurred the wrath of the Chinese people for her recent junket to Taiwan,” the foreign ministry’s Jo said in the statement.
“The US will have to pay dearly for all the sources of trouble spawned by her wherever she went.”
The rebuke from the North comes about a week after Kim Jong Un said his country was “ready to mobilise” its nuclear deterrent in any future military conflict with the US and Seoul.
North Korea has conducted a record-breaking blitz of weapons tests so far this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range for the first time since 2017.
Some further detail from Taiwan’s defence ministry on what it describes here as a “possible simulated attack”.
Taiwan’s army used patrolling naval ships and land-based missile systems to deal with the situation, it says.
Taiwan’s defence ministry has said that some Chinese aircraft and ships carried out simulation attack exercises towards the main Taiwan Island on Saturday, Reuters senior correspondent in Taipei Yimou Lee has tweeted.
Several batches of Chinese aircraft and ships were detected in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday morning, some of which crossed the median line, they report.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly has also urged China to halt its military actions in the air and seas around Taiwan.
“Canada is deeply concerned by the missiles launched by the People’s Republic of China towards Taiwan and into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. This action threatens regional stability and security,” she said in a statement on Twitter.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the new Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos Jr this morning in Malacañang palace in Manila.
Blinken reportedly said that relations between their two countries were extraordinary, founded in friendship, and said Washington was committed to their joint defence pact.
Marcos Jr said the current geopolitical context showed the importance of such ties. Marcos Jr also said he did not think Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan had raised the intensity of conflict in the region. “It just demonstrated it, how the intensity of that conflict has been,” he said, according to reports by GMA News Online.
The chair of this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings said on Saturday that discussions among foreign ministers over Taiwan tensions had been lively and included some strong arguments, but it was better disputes were handled with words, reports Reuters.
Prak Sokhonn, Cambodia’s foreign minister, said he told a meeting of foreign ministers they must have calm, dignified, polite, and civilised discussions.
“The most important thing is that we continue to talk to each other,” he told a news conference.
Earlier this week, foreign ministers from ASEAN called for “maximum restraint” regarding the Taiwan Strait, warning the situation could lead to “serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”
Hello and welcome to the Guardian’s continuing live coverage of the Taiwan crisis. Here’s a summary of the latest developments as it passes 10.30am in Taipei.
- The US, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers have urged China to immediately cease military exercises around Taiwan. In a joint statement after meeting in Phnom Penh on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers’ gathering, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, and the foreign ministers of Australia and Japan, Penny Wong and Hayashi Yoshimasa, “expressed their concern about the People’s Republic of China’s recent actions that gravely affect international peace and stability, including the use of large-scale military exercises”. They also “condemned the PRC’s launch of ballistic missiles, five of which the Japanese government reported landed in its exclusive economic zones, raising tension and destabilising the region”.
- The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, walked out of a plenary session in Cambodia just as Japan’s top diplomat, Yoshimasa Hayashi, spoke on Friday. Wang called a rare news conference late on Friday, where he accused the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, of spreading misinformation. He called Nancy Pelosi’s trip a “contemptible farce” and stressed China’s military response to it was “firm, forceful and appropriate”.
- The US special envoy on climate change John Kerry said China’s decision to suspend bilateral talks on climate change with the US does not punish Washington, “it punishes the world”. “No country should withhold progress on existential transnational issues because of bilateral differences,” said the former US secretary of state, who is currently the Biden administration’s top climate diplomat. US national security council spokesperson, John Kirby, also told reporters that China’s decision to halt cooperation in a number of critical areas was “fundamentally irresponsible”.
- Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said Chinese military drills near Taiwan, were a threat to regional security. Beijing announced four days of drills that are expected to finish on Sunday. The drills are a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens,” Kishida told reporters, speaking after a meeting with the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, in Tokyo on Friday.
- Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Friday the island’s military had dispatched aircraft and ships and deployed land-based missile systems to monitor ships and aircraft that briefly crossed the Taiwan strait median line. On Thursday, China fired multiple missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan. The defence ministry later said the missiles were high in the atmosphere and posed no threat. It gave no details of their flight paths, citing intelligence concerns. Taiwan also said it scrambled jets on Friday to warn away 49 Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone, according to Reuters. All 49 Chinese aircraft crossed the Taiwan strait median line, the ministry said in a statement.
- North Korea has denounced Nancy Pelosi as “the worst destroyer of international peace and stability”, after the US House speaker expressed her commitment during a visit to South Korea to achieving the North’s denuclearisation.
- China has “historically been a victim of foreign aggression”, its foreign ministry spokesperson said. In a series of tweets on Friday, Hua Chunying said: “China had historically been a victim of foreign aggression. Today, the US still grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs and attempts to undermine China’s sovereignty and security from time to time.”