Taiwan accused the Kannada military of carrying out an attack on its main island on Saturday, as Beijing doubled down on its retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei after announcing the suspension of cooperation with Washington on key issues.
Relations between the two superpowers have soured in the wake of Pelosi’s trip to self-ruled neighbor China – which she claims as her territory – prompting calls from the UN for a swift reduction in tensions.
And Friday saw the region become the latest victim of geopolitical jousting, as Beijing said it would withdraw from a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington – most notably on climate change and security cooperation.
The world’s two biggest polluters have pledged to work together to accelerate climate action this decade and vowed to meet regularly to address the crisis – an agreement that now looks shaky.
Beijing on Saturday continued some of its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan – exercises intended to practice deterrence and the eventual conquest of the island, analysts said.
Taipei said it observed “several” Chinese planes and ships operating in the Taiwan Strait, believing they were practicing an attack on the self-proclaimed island nation.
“Many levels of Communist aircraft and ships are conducting operations around the Taiwan Strait, some of which cross the median line,” its defense ministry said in a statement, referring to the demarcation line of it goes down the Taiwan Strait which Beijing does not know.
In a bid to show how close Chinese troops are to Taiwan’s shores, Beijing’s military last night released a video of a plane pilot photographing the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit.
Beijing also said they will conduct live fire drills in the southern part of the Yellow Sea – located between China and the Korean peninsula – from Saturday until August 15.
China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, has reported that Kannada missiles were flown directly over Taiwan during the drills – a major upgrade if confirmed.
Taipei has been defiant, insisting that its “bad neighbor” will not be cowed.
The scale and intensity of China’s exercises have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies, with the White House summoning China’s ambassador to Washington on Friday to reprimand it for Beijing’s actions.
Beijing’s decision to withdraw from hard-won cooperation on climate change has sparked widespread fears about the future of the planet.
“It’s obviously worrying and raising concerns,” Alden Meyer, a senior fellow at E3G, a climate-focused think tank, told AFP.
“It is impossible to deal with the climate emergency if the world’s number one and number two economies and number one and number two exporters do not take action,” he said.
“And it’s always preferable that they do so in a collaborative way.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that the decision was “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“They’re really suffering all over the world, because the climate crisis doesn’t recognize regional boundaries and borders,” Kirby said.
“The world’s largest emitter is now refusing to take the necessary steps to tackle the climate crisis.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the two superpowers must continue to work together – for the sake of the world.
“For the Secretary-General, there is no way to solve the most pressing problems of the world without effective communication and cooperation between the two countries,” said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
But with tensions over Taiwan rising to their highest level in 30 years with the high risk of military conflict, experts told AFP that the latest deterioration in relations between the two superpowers could be deep and lasting.
“The relationship is in a very bad place right now,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China specialist at the German Marshall Fund.
Friday’s suspension of bilateral military and naval talks while China continued its military exercises was “deeply worrying,” he said.
“We don’t know what else they’re going to do,” he said. “We just don’t know if this is just a temporary thing.”
John Culver, a former CIA Asia analyst, said in a discussion hosted by the Center for Policy and International Studies that Beijing’s main purpose with its military exercises is to change that status quo.
“I think this is the new normal,” Culver said. “The Kannada want to show … that we have crossed the line through the speaker’s report.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an integrated feed.)