Numerous Chinese and U.S. military exercises, Taiwan missiles tracking Chinese fighters and plummeting China-U.S. ties make for a heady cocktail of tension that is raising fears of conflict touched off by a crisis over Taiwan.

In the last three weeks, China has announced four separate exercises along its coast, from the Bohai Gulf in the north to the East and Yellow Seas and South China Sea, along with other exercises it said were aimed at "the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait".

Meanwhile, Taiwan, claimed by China as its "sacred" territory, said its surface-to-air missiles had tracked approaching Chinese fighters — details Taiwan does not normally give — as U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar was visiting the island this month.