Furious China fires missiles near Taiwan in drills after Pelosi visit

  • China holds military drills after US official visits Taiwan
  • China angry at US and Taiwan, calls for internal drills
  • Taiwan says 22 Chinese fighter jets cross median line
  • Japan says five missiles land in its economic zone
  • Drills around Taiwan set to run through Sunday

TAIPEI, Aug 4 (Reuters) – China deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan on Thursday in its biggest drills in the Taiwan Strait, a day after the Speaker of the House of Representatives United States, Nancy Pelosi, made a solidarity trip to the self-governing island. .

The Chinese military has confirmed several conventional missile strikes in waters off Taiwan as part of exercises planned in six areas that will run until noon on Sunday. It activated more than 100 aircraft, including fighter jets and bombers, and more than 10 warships, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it dispatched planes to warn 22 Chinese warplanes crossing the center line of the Taiwan Strait into its air defense zone, and said troops fired flares on Thursday evening to hunt four drones that flew over the area of ​​its Kinmen Islands, off the southeast coast of China.

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He said the missiles fired by China flew high in the atmosphere and posed no threat to it, addressing public concerns over whether they passed over the main island of Taiwan.

Map showing the six locations where China will conduct military exercises.

Japan protested that five missiles appeared to land in its economic zone. Read more

“The US-Taiwanese collusion and provocation will only push Taiwan towards the abyss of disaster, bringing disaster to Taiwan compatriots,” a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Responding to the Chinese manoeuvres, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan will not provoke conflicts but will firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.

“Taiwan will never be overthrown by challenges,” Tsai said in a recorded video message to the people of Taiwan.

“We are calm and not impetuous, we are rational and not defiant, but we will also be firm and not evasive.”

Taiwan said 11 Chinese Dongfeng ballistic missiles had been fired into nearby waters – the first time since 1996. read more

Taiwan officials said the drills violated United Nations rules, invaded its space and threatened free air and sea navigation. It has been self-governing since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communists seized power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists in a civil war, prompting the KMT-led government to withdraw to the ‘island.

The military activity followed Pelosi’s unannounced supportive visit to Taiwan in defiance of warnings from China.

Prior to the official start of the exercises, Chinese navy ships and military aircraft briefly crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait several times on Thursday, a Taiwanese source familiar with the matter told Reuters. Read more

By midday, warships from both sides remained close by as Taiwan also scrambled jets and deployed missile systems to track Chinese planes crossing the line.

“They came and went, again and again. They keep harassing us,” the Taiwanese source said.

China, which has long said it reserves the right to take Taiwan by force, says its disputes with the island are an internal matter. Read more

In Taiwan, life was largely normal despite fears Beijing could fire a missile at the main island like North Korea did at Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido in 2017.

“When China says it wants to annex Taiwan by force, it’s been saying that for quite a while,” said Chen Ming-cheng, a 38-year-old real estate agent. “From my personal understanding, they are trying to divert the public’s anger, the anger of their own people, and direct it back onto Taiwan.”

Taiwan said the websites of its defense ministry, foreign ministry and presidential office had been attacked by hackers and warned of “psychological warfare” to come.

‘COMRADE PELOSI’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational”, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Wang, speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Cambodia, said China had tried to avert the crisis through diplomatic means but would never let its core interests be harmed. .

Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced with a location map released by China’s official Xinhua news agency – a factor which some analysts said illustrated playing to domestic and overseas audiences . Read more

In Beijing, security near the US Embassy was exceptionally tight although there were no signs of significant protests.

“I think this (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” a man named Zhao said in Beijing. “It gives us the opportunity to surround Taiwan and then use that opportunity to take Taiwan by force. I think we should thank Comrade Pelosi.”

Pelosi, the highest American visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged American solidarity during her brief stopover. Chinese anger could not stop world leaders from going there, she said.

“Our delegation has come to Taiwan to say unequivocally that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – a red line for China. Read more

China summoned the US ambassador to Beijing in protest and halted several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

The United States and the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries have warned China against using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

“We are monitoring this closely. We continue to urge the Chinese not to overreact here. There is no reason to overreact the way they have or escalate tensions,” he told MSNBC. White House national security spokesman John Kirby.

The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is required by US law to provide it with the means to defend itself. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the islanders themselves can decide their future.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; Additional reporting by Tony Munroe, Ryan Woo and Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing and Fabian Hamacher in Taipei; Written by Raju Gopalakrishnan, William Maclean; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Angus MacSwan and Janet Lawrence

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