China announced Saturday that it will conduct three days of drills around Taiwan. This comes just days after Tsai, the Taiwanese President, met Kevin McCarthy, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in California.
China, which claims Taiwan to be its territory, has condemned the meeting. The meeting was the highest level of government reception that a Taiwanese President has received in the United States, since diplomatic relations between the United States and Beijing were established in 1979. China's foreign and defense ministries have promised to take a strong response.
The drills that have been announced are less intense than the ones China conducted in August after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan at the time to show her solidarity with the island's democracy. Beijing then conducted its largest ever military exercise, firing live missiles in the waters surrounding Taiwan and simulating an island blockade.
According to a report from Colonel Shi Yi of the Chinese Military's Eastern Theater Command (which includes Taiwan), a new round will be held between Saturday and Sunday. These exercises will include patrols for combat preparation and drills on the island's southern and northern waters, and in its airspace.
The China Maritime Safety Agency, located in Fujian province, which is the closest province to Taiwan, announced on Thursday and Friday that it will conduct a number of days of patrols.
In a statement released on Saturday, Taiwan's Defense Ministry stated that 13 Chinese military aircraft, and three navy ships, were detected around Taiwan from 6 am Friday to 7 am Saturday. Four of these vessels crossed the median line between Taiwan and mainland, a border that is informal.
China's relatively calm response for the moment appears to be a reflection of a change in diplomatic strategy. Beijing, under pressure at home due to a slowing of the economy and prolonged restrictions on coronavirus, seemed eager to stir up nationalist sentiments with a bellicose reaction during Ms. Pelosi’s visit. Beijing announced the drills even before Ms. Pelosi left Taiwan. It also suspended military and climate negotiations with the United States.
In recent months, however, after abandoning Covid control, the government has attempted to repair its reputation abroad, particularly in Europe. Emmanuel Macron, the French president, met with China's leader Xi Jinping over several days this week in Beijing and Guangzhou, in southern China. The drills weren't announced until Mr. Macron had left the country.