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Taiwan, China Hold Opposing Drills     08/17 06:15

   Taiwan is staging military exercises to show its ability to resist Chinese 
pressure to accept Beijing's political control over the self-governing island, 
following new rounds of threatening drills from China.

   HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) -- Taiwan is staging military exercises to show its 
ability to resist Chinese pressure to accept Beijing's political control over 
the self-governing island, following new rounds of threatening drills from 
China.

   The exercises Wednesday off the southeastern county of Hualien follow days 
of Chinese missile firings and incursions into Taiwan's sea and airspace by 
ships and planes from the People's Liberation Army, the military wing of 
China's ruling Communist Party.

   "We strongly condemn Communist China's continuous military provocations 
around Taiwan's sea and air that undermine regional peace," Taiwan Defense 
Ministry spokesperson Sun Li-fang told reporters at Hualien Air Force Base.

   "Communist China's military operations just provide us with the opportunity 
for combat-readiness training," Sun said.

   Taiwan's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou said China was using recent 
visits by U.S. Congress members including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a 
pretext for escalating its attempts to intimidate Taiwan into accepting what it 
calls its terms for "peaceful reunification."

   "China launched military provocations on these grounds. This is absurd and a 
barbaric act, which also undermines regional stability and interferes with 
shipping and commercial activities in the Indo-Pacific region," Ou said.

   China sees the island as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if 
necessary, and considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing 
its sovereignty.

   Alongside its military threats, China imposed visa bans and other sanctions 
Tuesday on Taiwanese political figures. China exercises no effective legal 
authority over Taiwan and it's unclear what effect the sanctions would have.

   China has refused all contact with Taiwan's government since shortly after 
the 2016 election of President Tsai Ing-wen of the pro-independence Democratic 
Progressive Party. Tsai was overwhelmingly reelected in 2020.

   The DPP also controls the legislature, while the vast majority of Taiwanese 
favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence along with strong 
economic and social connections between the sides.

   China accuses Washington of encouraging the island's independence through 
the sale of weapons and engagement between U.S. politicians and the island's 
government. The U.S. says it does not support independence and has no formal 
diplomatic ties with the island, but it is legally bound to ensure Taiwan can 
defend itself against threats from China, including a blockade.

   Aside from putting its military on alert, Taiwan has largely played down the 
threat from the Chinese exercises and life has continued as normal among a 
population of 23 million that has lived under the shadow of bellicose rhetoric 
and saber rattling from China for more than seven decades.

 
 
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