Taiwan begins live-fire military drills in show of readiness to China

Taiwan's military has begun its own live-fire exercises in a show of readiness to thwart a potential attack.

These exercises come after Joseph Wu, Taiwan's foreign minister, said that China is using military drills to rehearse an invasion of the self-governing island democracy.

Last week, US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that China's military exercises aimed at Taiwan represented a "significant escalation".

Mr Wu said Beijing aims to establish its dominance in the Western Pacific and annex Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory.

That would include control of the East and South China Seas via the Taiwan Strait and preventing the US and its allies from aiding Taiwan, he told a news conference in Taipei.

China says its drills were prompted by the visit to the island last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but Mr Wu said China was using her trip as a pretext for intimidating moves it has long had in the works.

The US has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan in deference to Beijing but is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself and to treat all threats against it – including a blockade – as matters of grave concern.

President Joe Biden has said repeatedly the US was bound to do so, in comments swiftly walked back by his staff.

Watch: China conducting live-firing drills near Taiwan.

The exercises show China's "geostrategic ambition beyond Taiwan", Mr Wu said.

"China has no right to interfere in or alter" the Taiwanese people's democratic process or interaction with other nations, he said, adding that Taiwan and the mainland are separate jurisdictions with "neither subordinate to the other".

Since 4 August, China has sent military ships and planes across the midline in the Taiwan Strait and launched missiles into waters surrounding the island.

Beijing has extended the exercises that amount to a blockade without announcing when they will end.

The drills have disrupted flights and shipping in one of the busiest zones for global trade.

Taiwan has put its forces on alert but has so far refrained from taking active countermeasures.

An extended crisis in the Taiwan Strait, a major passage for global trade, could have major implications for international supply chains at a time when the world is already facing disruptions and uncertainty.

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