China sends ships and jets close to Taiwan as tensions in strait mount

The ministry said Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops have crossed the median — the halfway point between the island and mainland China — in a move calling it a “highly provocative act”.

The line was previously an informal but largely respected border of control between Beijing and Taipei.

The Taiwanese military responded with radio alerts and put air patrol troops, naval vessels and shore missile systems on the alert, the ministry added.

On Friday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said the island represented “freedom and democracy” and that “the angry neighbor flexed his muscles at our doorstep 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 ramps up tensions not only with Taiwan, but also with neighboring Japan, which formally protested to China after five projectiles landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on August 5, 2022.

The missiles were among a number launched by Beijing on Thursday — some of which flew over Taiwan — as Pelosi was en route to Tokyo, where she met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

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

But missiles flying over the island marked a significant escalation, with US officials warning that more may be coming.

“We expected China to take steps like this — I even described them to you recently,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters at the White House on Thursday. . “We also expect that these actions will continue and that the Chinese will continue to respond in the coming days.”

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

On Friday, Kishida said the Chinese military exercises were “a serious problem regarding the security of our country and its people” and called for the exercises to be stopped immediately. Japan and the US would “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 such as the World Health Organization.

“They may try to stop Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they won’t 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 posed ‘no risk’

China began military exercises around the island on Thursday and fired multiple rockets into waters near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan the day after Pelosi’s departure.

A Chinese military expert confirmed on state broadcaster CCTV that 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 that the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets on waters,” said Major General Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at the National Defense University in Beijing.

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

Authorities have not issued an air raid siren because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan, the ministry said. The ministry added that it would not release further information about the missile’s trajectory to protect intelligence-gathering capabilities.

China fires missiles near Taiwan during live fire exercises as PLA surrounds island

Five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in Japan’s EEZ, including four that flew over Taiwan, Japan’s defense ministry said Thursday.

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

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

It follows similar Chinese raids a day earlier across the median line.

Thursday’s raids were made 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 discovered four drones flying over “restricted waters” around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands near mainland China. The ministry said Taiwan’s military fired flares to warn the drones away, but did not specify the type or origin of the devices.

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

On Friday, a spokesman for Taiwan’s foreign ministry said the UK government’s website and the ministry’s website had both detected a large number of attacks on Tuesday, the day Pelosi landed in Taiwan. The IP addresses behind the attacks came from China and Russia, among others, with the intention of paralyzing government sites, the spokesman said.

She added that the websites were back to normal after emergency repairs, but “massive attacks with malicious intent … by foreign enemy forces” continued Thursday and Friday.

Disruptions to trade

In a speech on Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen condemned China’s military exercises as “irresponsible”, saying they marked a “deliberate and continued escalation of military threats”.

“I must emphasize that we are not trying to escalate conflict or provoke disputes, but we will vigorously defend our sovereignty and national security, as well as the protection of democracy and freedom,” she added.

She also thanked the Group of Seven, made up of the world’s largest economies, who released a statement on Wednesday expressing concern about China’s live fire drills and urging Beijing not to disrupt the status quo in the region. change.

The exercises have also disrupted flight and ship schedules, with some international flights canceled and ships urged to use alternative routes to various ports around the island.

On Tuesday, China’s defense ministry said it would conduct exercises in six zones around Taiwan, warning ships and aircraft to stay out of the areas during exercises.

The Taiwan Strait is an important trade route for ships carrying goods between major economies in Northeast Asia, 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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