China continued its large-scale maneuvers around Taiwan on Sunday morning. Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the drills as an “irresponsible threat” not only in the Taiwan Strait Straits but also to the region as a whole.

As Taiwan’s military reported in Taipei, 20 Chinese military aircraft and 14 warships took part in the exercises the day before. Chinese drones have also been observed again over the offshore Taiwanese island of Kinmen, which is only ten kilometers from the port city of Xiamen on the Chinese coast.

According to experts, there had been no overflight of the island, also known as Quemoy, since the 1950s. The Chinese leadership in Beijing launched the maneuvers in response to the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei this week.

The Defense Ministry in Taipei on Saturday classified the maneuvers as a “simulation of an attack on Taiwan’s main island”. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu condemned “this dangerous military escalation of the military threat that is destroying peace and stability in the region”.

China’s Eastern Command confirmed that “assault skills” had been practiced. According to Chinese experts, the maneuvers are also used to prepare for an invasion of the island, which has a population of 23 million.

Taiwan’s president wrote on Facebook that the country’s frontline forces continue to protect national security while the diplomatic team briefs the international community on Taiwan’s determination to defend its sovereignty, democracy and freedom. Taiwan’s highest representative in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim , was quoted as saying: “We don’t want war. We want peace. We will do everything to de-escalate. But we will not surrender our freedom.”

The exercises are scheduled to end this Sunday. It is China’s largest military show of force against Taiwan since missile exercises in the mid-1990s, when the United States sent two aircraft carriers to the region around Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit to the island’s democratic republic was the highest-ranking visit from the United States in a quarter of a century. China is angry because it claims Taiwan as its own. It sees the island as part of the People’s Republic, threatens to conquer it and vehemently rejects official contacts with other countries. But the Taiwanese have long seen themselves as independent.

At the height of the maneuvers on Thursday, China’s air force had flown more than 100 missions with fighter jets, bombers, early warning and tanker aircraft and other military aircraft, according to the Eastern Command of the People’s Liberation Army. As the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei reported, China had sent a “record number” of military machines and naval ships into the waters near the democratic island republic.

Many of them also crossed the unofficial but so far most respected centerline of the Taiwan Strait Straits separating the mainland and Taiwan.

During the maneuvers, China also launched eleven ballistic missiles in the direction of Taiwan, one of which is reported to have flown directly over Taiwan and not far from the capital Taipei for the first time. Five landed east of Taiwan in the nearby Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Japan, which was also taken as a warning to Tokyo to stay out of the conflict.

Taiwan had already fired warning flares at Chinese drones flying over Taiwan’s Kinmen Islands, two kilometers off the coast of China. Additional flares were used to warn unidentified aircraft over the Matsu Islands. This was announced by the Ministry of Defense in Taiwan on Saturday.

Both Taiwanese archipelagos lie just off the coast of mainland China. The ministry said its troops were on high alert in both areas.

China-US relations remain strained following the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For example, China suspended the dialogue with the United States on climate protection.

White House spokesman for the National Security Council John Kirby has criticized these decisions as “deeply irresponsible”. It continued, “They think they are punishing us by shutting down this channel. In reality, they are punishing the whole world because the climate crisis knows no geographical borders.”

Cooperation such as in the fight against crime, drugs and the repatriation of people who have entered the country illegally have also been completely eliminated. Additionally, Beijing imposed unspecified sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members. China’s leadership accuses it of “seriously interfering in internal affairs”.

The US government called on China on Friday to stop the maneuvers immediately. “The Chinese can do a lot to ease tensions simply by ending their provocative military drills and softening their tone,” Kirby said. The USA wanted to maintain its military contacts with the People’s Republic “at the highest level”.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the new head of state of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in Manila on Saturday. Blinken paid tribute to the alliance between the two states: “The alliance is strong, and I think it can get even stronger.” Marcos spoke of a “special relationship” between the two countries.