Taiwan’s prime minister called China an “evil next door neighbor” after his army began live-fire drills around the island.

Su Tseng-chang told reporters in the capital Taipei that he believed China was arbitrarily destroying the Taiwan Strait – the world’s busiest waterway – with its military exercises, and that its actions were condemned by d other neighboring countries and the rest of the world.

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Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang. Photo: AP

Beijing admits there was live fire but it was ‘precision missile fire’ as part of drills by its navy, air force and other departments in six areas surrounding the island.

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Japan says it was forced to protest China after five of the missiles landed inside its exclusive economic zone.

The exercises were motivated by a visit to the island by United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, and aim to demonstrate China’s response to steps taken by the self-governing island to consolidate its de facto independence from Chinese rule.

Taiwan has put its army on alert and organized civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the region.

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Missiles fired from Chinese shores

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In a speech in Tokyo, following her trip to Taiwan, Ms. pelosi said China would not isolate Taiwan by preventing U.S. officials from traveling there and that America’s commitment to democracy in Taiwan “remains rock solid”.

Her decision to become the oldest American politician to visit Taiwan since the 1990s has infuriated China – and also drew some criticism closer to home. US President Joe Biden has advised against his trip, while US allies in the Asia-Pacific region have not rushed to praise his 24-hour plane visit as part of a regional tour.

While in Tokyo, Ms Pelosi spoke of the diplomatic storm caused by the visit – along with five members of the US Congress – to Taipei.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference with U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel and U.S. House Representatives Andy Kim (D -NJ), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Mark Takano (D -CA), and Suzan DelBene (D-WA), at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, on August 5, 2022. REUTERS/Issei Kato
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Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional delegation attend a press conference in Tokyo

“We said from the start that our representation here was not intended to change the status quo in Taiwan or the region,” she said.

A man stands in front of a screen showing a CCTV news broadcast, with a map of locations around Taiwan where the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) was to conduct military drills and training activities, including drills live-fire, at a shopping mall in central Beijing, China August 3, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo
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A screen in a mall shows a news broadcast, featuring locations in Taiwan where the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is conducting military exercises

Beijing has warned that the visit would damage China-US relationsand the Foreign Ministry said it seriously violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a statement released just after he arrived in Taipei, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a strong protest with the United States.

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An island of 23 million people, 112 miles off the coast of China, Taiwan declares itself an independent and democratic country with its own leader, constitution, political system and military.

But with territorial claims to the island dating back to 229 AD, Beijing’s Communist Party sees it as a breakaway province from China that will eventually return to its control – by force if necessary.

It’s called the One China Principle – a diplomatic recognition that Beijing is the only legitimate ruling power in China.

Technically, the United States subscribes to a version of this – a one China policy – ​​and therefore does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state, in accordance with the United Nations. But he still maintains unofficial ties and champions the island’s commitment to democracy.

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