Taiwan residents can ‘feel’ China tensions rise as South China Sea drills spark war fears

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Joseph Wu, Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he thought that, regarding such a conflict, the Taiwanese people can “see and feel” rising tensions, according to Taiwan News. Mr Wu made his comments on Monday during a Foreign and National Defence Committee meeting.

He added there were seven occasions between September 16 and September 24 in which the Chinese air force crossed into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

Some of China’s military exercises in the South China Sea this week took place near the disputed Paracel Islands, which are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The South China Morning Post reports two others were held in the Parcels region on June 18 and July 1.

Meanwhile, Taiwan and the US yesterday announced the two nations will cooperate on infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region, according to Reuters.

US officials said the plans would support emerging markets, while Taiwan’s Mr Wu said the “partnership” between the two countries had “gone up another level”.

Details were not immediately available on the investment projects. The US Department of State does not appear to have yet issued a statement on the meeting.

However, it is thought the US Treasury Department would join forces with Taiwan’s Finance Ministry to work on investment.

China has previously warned the US away from any official dealings with Taiwan, which it sees as its own territory. Taiwan, however, has asserted its own independence.

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China’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian has warned China is “firmly opposed” to any meetings between the US and Taiwan.

Taiwan is also facing pressure from the situation in Hong Kong, analysts say.

This year, Beijing imposed a controversial national security law on the semi-autonomous region, which critics fear could curtail freedom of speech.

Some Hong Kong residents have been fleeing to Taiwan since last year following pro-democracy protests in the region, since rioting carries a heavy jail term.

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However, their options to leave have since narrowed, Reuters reports, leaving many to risk travelling to Taiwan by boat – even though the distance is around 435 miles.

Sources told the agency the Taiwanese government wants to provide humanitarian assistance to Hong Kong citizens, though it fears this could prompt backlash from China.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese president Nguyen Phu Trong has called on China’s leader Xi Jinping to “work together” on issues the two countries face.

The two leaders held a phone call on Tuesday, Vietnamese state media said.

Both countries lay claim to the disputed Paracel Islands where China has held military drills this week.

Vietnam has already protested such drills China has held in the area at other times this year.

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