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Taiwan leaders urge calm in face of Chinese military exercises

Top government officials in Taiwan are urging citizens to remain calm in the face of plans by China to hold air and sea military drills in the waters encircling the island.

Top government officials in Taiwan are urging citizens to remain calm in the face of plans by China to hold air and sea military drills in the waters encircling the island.

From Thursday to Sunday, China will hold exercises at six points surrounding Taiwan, coming as close to 9 nautical miles from its two major sea ports in Keelung and Kaohsiung.

The drills are apparent retaliation for the visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the third-highest ranking official in Washington.

After reaffirming that the United States “stands with Taiwan,” Pelosi left Wednesday evening after a nearly 20-hour whirlwind visit.

Pelosi’s visit raised fears of a military crisis in the narrow Taiwan Strait separating mainland China from the island.

Beijing’s ruling Communist Party views self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory and claims reunification as inevitable.

Officials in Taiwan‘s Ministry of National Defence condemned the Chinese military exercises as “equivalent to a blockade” and a “violation of international law.”

But after a Cabinet meeting convened by Premier Su Tseng-chang, senior ministers outlined a set of countermeasures to ensure the regular functioning of the government and public services.

In particular, they pointed to the threat posed by fake reports of violence, such as airport bombings, or what they called “knowledge warfare attacks.”

Transportation Minister Wang Kuo-tsai said his ministry had held discussions with air traffic control authorities north and south of Taiwan, plus airlines, in order to adjust schedules and flight patterns while the drills take place.

Wang said that all 150 daily flights leaving Taiwan`s airports will not be hindered by the Chinese exercises, but may face delays due to changes in routing.

Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua assured citizens that fuel stocks of coal, oil and liquefied natural gas were more than sufficient.

Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng said government agencies were bolstering defences against hacking and other cyberattacks.

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