Taiwan said on Saturday that Chinese military exercises appeared to simulate an attack on the self-governing island, after several Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s armed forces issued an alert, sent air and naval patrols around the island and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Twitter.
China launched live-fire military drills after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan earlier this week, saying her visit violated the “one China” policy. China views the island as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if necessary, and views visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognition of its sovereignty.
Separately on Saturday, the Taiwanese military detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying near the offshore county of Kinmen, the Taiwan Central News Agency reported.
The four drones, which Taiwan believed to be Chinese, were spotted over the waters around the Kinmen Island Group and neighboring Lieyu Island and Beiding Islet, according to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command. .
The Taiwanese military fired flares in response.
“Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond if necessary,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet.
“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop any escalation of the regional security situation,” she added.
Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands administered by Taiwan. The islands are located about 10 km east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province.
The Chinese military exercises started on Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. Exercises so far have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters .
Taiwan has put its army on high alert and organized civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the region.
The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the United States remains committed to a “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not stop Pelosi from visiting.
China also halted defense talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
Pelosi has long been a human rights advocate in China. She, along with other lawmakers, visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.