FirstFT: China ratchets up military drills around Taiwan


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Good morning. China announced a fresh round of military manoeuvres around Taiwan yesterday in reaction to the visit of a US congressional delegation, a move that ratchets up Beijing’s efforts to isolate the island nation.

The announcement came after Democratic senator Ed Markey and four members of the US House of Representatives from both sides of the aisle landed in Taiwan on Sunday night and met President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday morning.

The Chinese defence ministry said the visit flagrantly violated previous agreements and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“[It] sends a wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces, and fully exposes the true face of the US as a disrupter and destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” the ministry said.

Beijing’s fierce reaction to the latest US delegation is raising concerns in Taiwan and elsewhere that the Chinese leadership is trying to impose a new status quo under which foreign politicians and officials are dissuaded from engaging with the island’s government.

The People’s Liberation Army’s new “multiple services joint combat-readiness patrols and exercises” come barely five days after it completed week-long drills that followed US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. China said last week those drills had succeeded in “obliterating” the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer zone, and that the PLA would from now on regularly patrol around the island.

Since then, PLA aircraft and warships have been conducting daily manoeuvres around Taiwan in numbers far exceeding those before Pelosi’s visit and in areas close to Taiwan where they were not frequently active before the current crisis.

According to the Taiwanese defence ministry, 96 Chinese military aircraft were active around the island between last Thursday and Sunday — after Beijing had said its exercises were over, but that it would keep a “close eye” on Taiwan and the US and conduct frequent patrols in the area.

Happy Tuesday, and thanks for reading FirstFT Asia. —Ethan

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The day ahead

Economic data Minutes will be released from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s August policy meeting. The UK publishes preliminary second-quarter productivity estimates as the country’s productivity slump is scrutinised. The US will release industrial production figures.

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What else we’re reading

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Why the Fed might be at ‘neutral’ already on monetary policy Fed chair Jay Powell has been skewered by his critics for claiming that the federal funds rate was now at “neutral” at his July 27 press conference. But there is a conceivable way that Powell might be right, says Edward Yardeni.

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Crypto poses serious challenges for regulators Even as the crypto industry craves the legitimacy that regulation offers, it will also try to minimise oversight, says Eswar Prasad. To guard against that, regulators must answer a few basic questions.

Business Book of the Year The FT’s annual award has been narrowed down to 15 titles. While subjects range from interest rates to tech, the common theme that emerges is the many challenges facing the global economy.

Work & leisure

August is the traditional month for making yourself scarce at the office. Why are so many still working this August, asks Pilita Clark:

At first I thought I was the only one with an unexpectedly active office. But others in the city have the same problem. One friend who had his hopes of a quietly productive August dashed by office busyness blames the rise of hybrid working.

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