China’s military has sent aircraft and warships to probe Taiwan’s defenses for a second day, escalating a crisis that has prompted one of the island’s richest men to donate millions of dollars to its security.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said Friday that several groups of Chinese aircraft and warships had been operating in the Taiwan Strait area as of 11 a.m., including on Taiwan’s side of the median line, a unofficial division of the strait drawn by the US decades ago to reduce the risk of conflict.
Robert Tsao, founder of contract chip maker United Microelectronics Corp, announced he was donating NT$3 billion ($100 million) to Taiwan’s defense.
“With the Chinese Communist Party acting so despotically towards Taiwan, perhaps they think that all Taiwanese fear death and covet money?” he said in a fiery press conference. “But I hope… we stand up and fight to defend freedom, democracy and human rights”.
Tsao previously told Taiwanese media that her two sons would return to the country if China invaded. His latest comments were the strongest from a high-profile tycoon in Taiwan’s technology hardware sector since the start of military exercises this week.
Last week, Mark Liu, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s leading maker of high-end chips, told CNN that “no one can control TSMC by force.”
China’s unprecedented live-fire war games, which have sparked the biggest cross-strait crisis since the 1990s, were launched this week to punish Taiwan for a visit by House Speaker of the United States, Nancy Pelosi, in the country.
China’s foreign ministry said late Friday that it would impose sanctions against Pelosi and members of her immediate family.
“The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, insisted on going to Taiwan without considering China’s serious concerns and strong opposition. This . . . severely tramples on the ‘one China’ principle” , the ministry said, without specifying the scope of the sanctions.
On the last stop of her five-country tour, Pelosi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who condemned China’s missile launches and called for an immediate end to the military exercises.
Pelosi told a news conference that while the visit to Taiwan was not intended to change the status quo, it took place against a backdrop of China’s repeated attempts to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world.
Pelosi and Kishida spoke hours after China fired ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time.
Chinese official media, meanwhile, tried to rally support for the exercises after an international backlash. An op-ed in military mouthpiece PLA Daily said the drills were aimed at “deterrence” after Taiwan and the United States clashed to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, a echoing Beijing’s insistence that Washington was ultimately responsible for provoking Russia’s invasion. Ukraine in February.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at Beijing’s National Defense University, said a US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, had been forced to retreat several hundred kilometers after the People’s Liberation Army set up a shooting range in eastern Taiwan.
Pelosi’s trip to Asia has also underscored the diplomatic dilemma for regional leaders caught in the spat between the world’s two largest economies. On Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declined to meet with Pelosi during her visit to Seoul as her administration comes under increasing Chinese pressure over trade and defense ties. with the US.
The apparent resentment was applauded by Chinese media and netizens. “Pelosi does not appear to be popular in Seoul,” wrote the Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times.
Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding in Beijing and Tom Mitchell in Singapore
Video: Will China and the United States go to war over Taiwan?