The Chinese military has sent planes and warships for a second day to survey Taiwan’s defenses, escalating a crisis that has prompted one of the island’s wealthiest men to donate millions of dollars to his security.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that multiple groups of Chinese warplanes and warships were operating in the Taiwan Strait area until 11 a.m., including on the Taiwanese side of the median line, an unofficial division of the strait that was destroyed by the US decades ago. drawn to reduce the risk of conflict.
Robert Tsao, founder of contract chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp, announced that he was donating NT$3 billion ($100 million) to the defense of Taiwan.
“Now that the Chinese Communist Party is acting so despotically towards Taiwan, maybe they think Taiwanese are all afraid of death and lust for money?” he said at 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 his two sons would return to the country if China invaded. His latest comments were the strongest from a high-profile tycoon in Taiwan’s tech hardware sector since the military exercises began this week.
Last week, Mark Liu, chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s leading high-end chipmaker, told CNN that “no one can control TSMC by force”.
China’s unprecedented live-fire war games, which have sparked the strait’s worst crisis since the 1990s, were launched this week to punish Taiwan for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the country.
China’s foreign ministry said Friday afternoon it would impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family.
“The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, insisted on going to Taiwan without regard to China’s grave concerns and strong opposition. This one . . . seriously violates the principle of ‘one China’,” the ministry said, without specifying the scope of the sanctions.
On the final stop of her five-country tour, Pelosi met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who condemned China’s missile launches and called for an immediate end to military exercises.
Pelosi said at a news conference that while the visit to Taiwan was not intended to change the status quo, it took place against the background of repeated attempts by China to isolate Taiwan from the rest of the world.
Pelosi and Kishida spoke hours after China first fired ballistic missiles at Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Chinese official media, meanwhile, tried to gain support for the exercises following an international response. An op-ed in the military spokesman PLA Daily said the exercises were aimed at “deterrence” after Taiwan and the US colluded to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, echoing Beijing’s insistence that Washington was ultimately responsible for provoking of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University in Beijing, claimed that a US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, was forced to retreat several hundred kilometers after the People’s Liberation Army set up a firing range east of Taiwan.
Pelosi’s journey through Asia has also highlighted the diplomatic dilemma for regional leaders caught up in the struggle between the world’s two largest economies. On Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol declined to meet Pelosi during her visit to Seoul, as his government has come under increasing Chinese pressure over its commercial and defense relations with the US.
The apparent punch was applauded by Chinese media and netizens. “Pelosi doesn’t seem to be popular in Seoul,” wrote the Chinese state nationalist tabloid Global Times.
Additional reporting by Maiqi Ding in Beijing and Tom Mitchell in Singapore