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China cancels defence, climate talks with US, steps up military drills

China cancels defence, climate talks with US, steps up military drills
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Beijing: China on Friday stepped up its provocative military drills and warplane incursions in the Taiwan Straits, as Beijing announced sanctions on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in retaliation for her high-stakes visit to Taiwan and cancelled bilateral talks with Washington on defence, climate change and a range of other issues.

Pelosi's visit to Taiwan on Wednesday, when she met President Tsai Ing-wen and other leaders, has infuriated China's ruling Communist Party, which views the self-governed democratic island as its territory that should be reunified with the mainland, even by force.

China has declared four days of military exercises in six designated zones surrounding Taiwan, as part of its angry response to Pelosi's visit to Taipei.

The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) which oversees Taiwan, continued to conduct joint combat exercises and training in the northern, southwestern and eastern waters and airspace off Taiwan island for the second day on Friday.

The PLA dispatched 68 aircraft and 13 vessels for the activities around the Taiwan Strait, part of which had crossed the median line and jeopardised the status quo of the strait, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on Twitter.

On Thursday, the first day of the four-day drills, the PLA conducted a series of live-fire exercises and training operations around Taiwan, including the firing of multiple ballistic missiles to vent its anger over Pelosi's visit. More than 100 aircraft, including the PLA's best combat planes such as the J-20 stealth fighter jet, the J-16 strike jet and the YY-20 aerial refuelling aircraft were sent to airspace to the north, southwest and southeast of Taiwan to perform joint reconnaissance, air penetration and fire support drills, state-run China Daily reported.

More than 10 guided-missile destroyers and frigates had been deployed near Taiwan to enforce blockade and area-denial tasks, it said.

"The recent coercion from People's Republic of China's drills around us aimed to change the status quo of Taiwan Strait, violated our sovereignty, and caused tension in the Indo-Pacific region. #ROCArmedForces seek no escalation, but we succumb to no challenges and respond with reason," Taiwan's defence ministry tweeted.

Also on Friday, China stepped up its retaliatory actions against the US for Pelosi's visit to Taiwan by announcing sanctions against her and her immediate family and cancelled talks with Washington on defence, climate change and a range of other issues.

Pelosi, 82, is the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which stridently criticised her visit and lodged stern protests against the US by summoning its Ambassador to China Chris Burns and announced four-day high-intensity military drills in Taiwan Strait, issued a statement on Friday imposing sanctions against Pelosi and her family.

In response to Pelosi's "egregious provocation," China has decided to impose sanctions on her and her immediate family members in accordance with relevant laws of the People's Republic of China, the statement said.

The sanctions against Pelosi were regarded as symbolic and it bans her and her family members from travelling to China.

In another statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced countermeasures against the US, which included cancellation of the China-US Theatre Commanders Talks, China-US Defence Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT) and the China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) meetings.

The ministry also announced the suspension of the China-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants, the China-US cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters, China-US cooperation against transnational crimes, China-US counter-narcotics cooperation, and China-US talks on climate change.

The cancellation of the defence dialogue between the two countries was regarded significant here as the major powers currently involved in intense strategic rivalry held periodic consultations, which observers say helped in avoiding accidental conflicts in hotspot areas like the disputed South China Sea, where the US has stepped up naval and aerial expeditions to assert freedom of navigation.

China's sanctions against Pelosi and the other countermeasures came amid rare vocal criticism by the Chinese, especially in the local media, on Beijing's failure to stop Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

Pelosi's visit was regarded as a setback for the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to get an unprecedented third-five-year term, unlike his predecessors.

He is expected to be endorsed in the once-in-a-five-year Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China in the next few months. agencies LAC

strongly pressed for avoiding flying activities within 10 km of the LAC on both sides, the sources added.

The Indian team, comprising an Air Commodore and a number of senior Army officials, highlighted the need for focusing on confidence-building measures to avoid any untoward incident, the sources said. The Chinese team also deployed a senior official from the People's Liberation Army(PLA) Air Force.

The special round of talks took place over a month after the instances of Chinese combat aircraft flying close to the LAC in eastern Ladakh that had prompted the Indian Air Force(IAF) to scramble its jets.

"The Indian team highlighted the need for having confidence-building measures and to have a better understanding between the two sides," said a source, adding it was conveyed that both sides should not fly within 10 km of the buffer zone from the LAC.

A Chinese J-11 fighter jet flew close to the LAC in eastern Ladakh in the last week of June following which the IAF also initiated counter-measures. There were reports of similar incidents earlier as well.

The sources said it was for the first time in the recent past that an IAF officer joined the talks.

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