China sends ships and planes near Taiwan as tensions rise in the strait

The ministry said Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces crossed the median line – halfway between the island and mainland China – in a move it called an “act highly provocative”. The line was previously an informal but widely respected checkpoint between Beijing and Taipei.

The Taiwanese military responded with radio warnings and put air patrol forces, warships and land-based missile systems on high alert, the ministry added.

On Friday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said the island represented “freedom and democracy” and that “the evil neighbor next door flexed his muscles at our door and arbitrarily sabotaged (one of the ) busiest waterways in the world with military exercises.”

The skies and waters around Taiwan have become a focal point as Beijing expresses its fury over Pelosi’s visit to the island and simultaneously escalates tensions with neighboring Japan, which lodged a formal protest with China after that five projectiles landed near the Japanese islands.

The missiles were among a number of missiles launched by Beijing on Thursday – some of which flew over Taiwan – as Pelosi headed for Tokyo where she met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

China has previously fired missiles into the waters surrounding Taiwan – a democratic island of 24 million people that the Chinese Communist Party considers its territory, although it has never controlled it – notably during the straits crisis. of Taiwan in the 1990s.

But the missiles flying over the island marked a significant escalation, with US officials warning there could be more to come.

“We expected China to take steps like this — in fact, I described them to you in detail the other day,” John Kirby, spokesman for the United States National Security Council, said Thursday. United, to reporters at the White House. . “We also hope that these actions will continue and that the Chinese will continue to react in the coming days.”

A US aircraft carrier will remain in the area around Taiwan for several days to “monitor the situation”, Kirby added.

On Friday, Kishida said the Chinese military drills were “a serious issue regarding the security of our country and its people” and called for an immediate halt to the drills. Japan and the United States “will work together to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait”, he added.

Speaking in Tokyo on Friday, Pelosi accused China of trying to “isolate Taiwan”, pointing to the island’s exclusion from international groups like the World Health Organization.

“They may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there,” she said.

She added that her visit to Taiwan was about maintaining the status quo, not changing it.

Missiles pose ‘no risk’

China began military drills around the island on Thursday, firing several missiles toward waters near northeast and southwest Taiwan the day after Pelosi left.

A Chinese military expert confirmed on state broadcaster CCTV that the conventional missiles flew over Taiwan’s main island, including the airspace covered by Taiwanese defense missiles.

“We hit the targets under the observation of the US Aegis combat system, which means the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets on the waters,” Maj. Gen. Meng Xiangqing said. , professor of strategy at the National Defense University. In Beijing.

In a statement late Thursday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said the missiles traveled above the atmosphere and therefore posed no risk to the island.

Authorities did not issue an air raid alert because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan, the ministry said. The ministry added that it would not release any further information on the trajectory of the missiles to protect its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

China fires missiles near Taiwan in live-fire drills as PLA surrounds island

Five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, including the four that would have flown over Taiwan, Japan’s Defense Ministry said Thursday.

“This is a serious issue that concerns the security of Japan and that of its citizens. We strongly condemn it,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said at a press conference.

China also sent 22 warplanes to Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, all of which crossed the median line.

It follows similar Chinese incursions a day earlier across the Median Line which was previously an informal but widely respected checkpoint between Beijing and Taipei.

Thursday’s incursions were carried out by 12 SU-30 fighter jets, eight J-11 fighter jets and two J-16 fighter jets, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Later Thursday, the ministry said it detected four drones flying over “restricted waters” around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands near mainland China. The ministry said the Taiwanese military fired flares to warn the drones, but did not specify the type or origin of the devices.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducts missile tests in the waters off the east coast of Taiwan from an undisclosed location on August 4, 2022.

Trade disruptions

In a speech on Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called the Chinese military exercises “irresponsible”, saying they marked a “deliberate and continuous escalation of military threats”.

“I must emphasize that we do not seek to aggravate conflicts or incite disputes, but we will firmly defend our sovereignty and national security, as well as the safeguard of democracy and freedom,” she added.

She also thanked the Group of Seven, made up of the world’s largest economies, which issued a statement on Wednesday expressing concern over China’s live-fire exercises and urging Beijing not to change the status quo in the region.

The drills have also disrupted flight and ship schedules, with some international flights canceled and ships told to use alternative routes for several ports around the island.

On Tuesday, China’s Defense Ministry said it would hold its drills in six areas around Taiwan, warning ships and planes to stay out of those areas during drills.

The Taiwan Strait is a key trade route for ships carrying goods between major Northeast Asian economies such as China, Japan and South Korea, and the rest of the world.

Gawon Bae and Yong Xiong of CNN in Seoul, Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo, Laura He in Hong Kong, Eric Cheung in Taipei and Sam Fossum in Washington contributed to this report.

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