China hits Taiwan with trade restrictions over Pelosi visit as Taiwan says it will ‘not back down’

China’s largest-ever military exercise around Taiwan began on Thursday as part of a show of force along vital international shipping lanes following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
Ms Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a trip that defied a series of serious threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its own territory.

Ms. Pelosi was the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years and said her trip “made it clear” that the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.

This prompted a furious response from China, which vowed to “punish” and announced military exercises in the seas around Taiwan, one of the busiest waterways in the world.
The exercise, which began around noon on Thursday, includes live fire, according to state media.
“Six main areas around the island have been selected for real combat exercises, and during this period, the respective ships and aircraft should not enter the respective waters and airspace,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The exercise will take place in several areas around Taiwan – at some points as little as 20 kilometers from the coast – and will end at noon on Sunday.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said it was closely monitoring the exercise.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Peloisi with Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu in Taiwan on August 2. Credits: Sipa USA / Sipa USA

“The Department of National Defense emphasizes that it will adhere to the principle of preparing for war without seeking war and with an attitude of not allowing conflict to escalate and disputes to arise,” the statement said.

Beijing-based nationalist state tabloid Global Times said, citing military analysts, that the exercise was “unprecedented” and that the missiles would fly over Taiwan for the first time.
“This is the first time that the PLA will launch long-range military artillery across the Taiwan Strait,” the newspaper said, using the Chinese military’s official name, the People’s Liberation Army.

The Group of Seven Industrialized Nations condemned the exercise, saying in a statement that “there was no reason to use the visit as a pretext for aggressive military action in the Taiwan Strait.”

“Preparing for a real fight”

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau on Wednesday warned ships not to visit areas used for Chinese exercises.
The Taiwanese cabinet said the exercise would disrupt 18 international routes through the Flight Information Region (FIR).
Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific said it had ordered its aircraft to “avoid crossing designated airspace areas around Taiwan.”
The maneuvers will take place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to ship vital semiconductor and electronic equipment manufactured in East Asian manufacturing centers to world markets.

China called the exercise “necessary and fair”, blaming the escalation on the US and its allies.

“In the current fight over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the United States is the provocateur and China is the victim,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing on Wednesday.
A Chinese military source also told AFP that the exercise would be organized “in preparation for actual combat.”

“If Taiwanese forces intentionally make contact with the PLA and accidentally fire a shot, the PLA will take strict countermeasures and the Taiwanese side will bear all the consequences,” the source said.

China ‘cannot ban world leaders from traveling’ to Taiwan

Ms. Pelsoy said that China cannot stop world leaders from visiting Taiwan after they complete their visit to the self-ruled island.
“Unfortunately, Taiwan was not allowed to participate in global meetings, most recently at the World Health Organization, due to objections from the Chinese Communist Party,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement.

“While they may prevent Taiwan from sending its leaders to global forums, they cannot prevent world leaders or anyone else from coming to Taiwan to pay tribute to its flourishing democracy, highlight its many successes, and reaffirm our commitment to continued cooperation.”

China showed its outrage at the highest level of US visit to the island in 25 years with an outbreak of military activity in surrounding waters, a summoning of the US ambassador in Beijing and a halt in agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Some of China’s planned military exercises were to take place within Taiwan’s 12-mile maritime and air territory, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.

repeated warnings

The island’s defense ministry said 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.

Ms. Pelosi arrived with a congressional delegation on her unannounced but closely watched visit late Tuesday night, despite China’s repeated warnings, in a trip that she said showed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Taiwanese democracy.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it clear that we will not give up on Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects of pushing formal independence, a red line for China.

“Now more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is critical, and that’s the message we bring here today,” Ms. Pelosi said during her roughly 19-hour visit.

Analysts believe more trade disruptions are coming

China’s customs administration said on Wednesday it would suspend imports of some citrus fruits from Taiwan due to alleged “repeated” detection of excessive pesticide residues and fish imports due to positive coronavirus tests on packages.
In a separate notice, the Commerce Department added that it would also “suspend natural sand exports to Taiwan” from Wednesday, without providing details.

Natural sand is commonly used to make concrete and asphalt, and most of Taiwan’s imported sand and gravel comes from China.

The moves are part of “an overall pattern for Beijing,” said Even Pei, an agricultural analyst at consultancy Trivium China.
She added that more disruptions to agricultural and food trade can be expected in the coming days.
“When diplomatic or trade tensions escalate, Chinese regulators are usually extremely strict about compliance… looking for any issues that can be used to justify a trade ban,” she told AFP.
Official data shows that China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner and export market, with bilateral trade up 26% year on year to $328 billion in 2021.
This is not the first time Beijing has targeted exports from the island.

China banned pineapple imports in March 2021, citing pest detection in what many saw as a politically motivated move.

China furious when Nancy Pelosi arrives in Taiwan image

“Taiwan won’t back down”

Taiwan’s president acted defiantly, declaring that there would be no “retreat.”
“Faced with deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down. We … will continue to hold the line of defense of democracy,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said at an event with Ms. Pelosi in Taipei.
She also thanked Ms. Pelosi for “taking concrete action to demonstrate your strong support for Taiwan at this critical time.”

“Today, our delegation … came to Taiwan to make it clear that we will not give up our commitments to Taiwan,” she said at the event along with Ms. Tsai.

Earlier, Ms. Pelosi said her group came “in friendship to Taiwan” and “in peace to the region.”
China is trying to isolate Taiwan on the world stage and oppose official country exchanges with Taipei.
President Joe Biden’s administration said ahead of the visit that US policy on Taiwan remains unchanged.
This means supporting his government in accepting Beijing diplomatically instead of Taipei and opposing Taiwan’s official declaration of independence or China’s forcible takeover.

While the White House has been known to oppose Ms. Pelosi’s Taiwan stop, his National Security Council spokesman John Kirby has said she is free to go where she pleases.

Australia joins other countries in calling for de-escalation

Japan, a key U.S. ally in the region, said on Wednesday that it had expressed concern to China about the exercise, while South Korea called for dialogue to maintain peace and stability in the region.
Both countries are on Ms. Pelosi’s Asian itinerary after stops in Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said it was important to avoid any prospect of military conflict.

“All parties should think about how they can best contribute to reducing the current tensions, and we all want peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.

“We do have a situation where we see increased rhetoric and deployment of military hardware.”
Ms. Wong confirmed Australia’s support for the one China policy, in which Taiwan is not recognized as a country and the government in Beijing is the only Chinese government.
“Australia has a bipartisan one-China policy, and we have a bipartisan policy that prevents unilateral changes in the status quo,” she said.

“We must continue, together with others in the region, to call for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.”