The South China Morning Post reported on Sunday that China wound down its unprecedented military drills around Taiwan after days of live-fire exercises near the island that were done in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
The exercises were the largest China has ever held around the island and featured a series of unprecedented actions. From Thursday to Sunday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) shut down six areas around Taiwan, simulating a blockade on the island.
The Post report said that China hadn’t formally announced an end to the drills, but that Taiwan’s transport ministry told airlines to resume flights through the six areas that were blocked off by the PLA, indicating military action was over in those areas.
During the exercises, Chinese warplanes frequently crossed the median line that separates the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial barrier the PLA typically avoided crossing. A Chinese warship came within 12 miles of Taiwan’s coast, and for the first time, the PLA launched missiles over the island.
Analysts have predicted that China’s unprecedented military actions will now become routine as a consequence of Pelosi’s visit. Chinese state TV reported on Sunday that from now on, the PLA will conduct “regular” drills east of the median line.
Tensions are expected to escalate as the US is saying it will send more military assets into the region. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which is based in Japan, will send ships and planes through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks. The US has also ordered the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan to stay in the region and “monitor” Chinese drills.
Also in response to Pelosi’s trip, China cut off military talks with the US, and Beijing has reportedly not returned calls from top Pentagon leaders. The lack of communication and increase in the US and Chinese military activity raises the chances of an accident between the two militaries.
It was clear that Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan would significantly ratchet up tensions in the region and sink US-China relations even lower. But she went ahead with the trip anyway even as Biden administration officials were warning it could cause a major crisis across the Taiwan Strait.