The Chinese military has kicked off “major” exercises in the Yellow Sea ahead of Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen’s planned departure Sunday for Paraguay, the only Taiwanese ally in South America, and the tiny Central American country of Belize.

China’s Defense Ministry said late Friday that the military exercises began Friday in waters off Shandong province and would run through Sunday. The ministry, citing a notice from the China Maritime Safety Administration, said that all boats and ships were banned from entering restricted zones off the northeastern city of Rizhao to the southeastern city of Qingdao, both in Shandong, for safety reasons. Qingdao is a major naval and commercial port, and home to the Chinese navy’s North Sea Fleet.

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