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China’s live-fire exercises off Taiwan an ‘unnecessary escalation,’ defence minister says

China's live-fire exercises off Taiwan an 'unnecessary escalation,' defence minister says

China’s live-fire exercises off the coast of Taiwan has been an “unnecessary escalation,” according to Canada’s defence minister.

Anita Anand made the comments on CBC’s Radio’s The House this weekend and the remarks came one day after Beijing announced it was ending all contact with the United States on major issues — including climate cooperation.

“We are concerned by threatening actions by China,” Anand said in a feature interview.

“There is no justification to use a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”

The response by Beijing to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has gone beyond simple retaliation, she added.

“It is routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally, and China’s escalatory response simply risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region,” Anand said. 

“We call on China not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region and to resolve cross-strait differences by peaceful means.”

That doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

Minister of Defence Anita Anand is urging China to resolve its issues related to Taiwan peacefully. (Lars Hagberg/The Canadian Press)

Over the last few days, China dispatched more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships as a show of force off Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.

The country’s strategic rocket forces also lobbed ballistic missiles over the island and into the Pacific Ocean as a further display of outrage. 

Officials in Beijing said Friday they also plan to sanction Pelosi personally.

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Jonathan Berkshire Miller, an Asia-Pacific expert at the Ottawa-based MacDonald-Laurier Institute, said he believes China’s reaction has been over-the-top, but the message is intended for domestic audiences as much as it is for the international community.

The country’s Communist party will hold a major congress this fall and President Xi Jinping cannot afford to look weak on Taiwan — a consideration that he says must have been on the minds of senior U.S. officials beforehand.

“I think that the United States … was reading the tea leaves beforehand,” said Miller “You could see the Biden administration … first privately and then publicly, cautioning against such a visit.”


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