Taiwan says it detected “several” Chinese warplanes and warships taking part in military exercises around the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, in what could be a possible mock attack on the island.
The ministry said some of the planes and ships crossed the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from the Chinese mainland.
“Our military has issued warnings, deployed combat air patrol boats and warships, and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation,” the ministry said.
China has yet to issue a statement on the purpose of Saturday’s military drills.
The news follows a series of military drills China has conducted around Taiwan since Thursday following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to the self-governing democratic island earlier this week.
The Chinese Communist Party considers Taiwan its territory, although it has never controlled it, and has long pledged to “reunify” the island with the Chinese mainland – by force if necessary.
Pelosi shrugged off his furious opposition to his visit by landing in Taipei on Tuesday night as part of a larger Asia tour that ended Friday with a final stop in Japan.
But the full ramifications of his visit are only just beginning to emerge, with China ending its cooperation on various issues, worsening already strained US-China relations and stepping up exercises in the skies and waters around Taiwan. .
On Friday, 68 Chinese fighter jets were reported across the Taiwan Strait, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. Of these, 49 entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone – an airspace buffer commonly referred to as ADIZ. That was just a few planes shy of the record set last year when 56 Chinese fighter jets entered the ADIZ on the same day.
Nineteen of the warplanes also crossed the median line across the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the ministry said.
On Thursday, China launched 11 ballistic missiles – some of which flew over the island of Taiwan and landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, prompting Tokyo to file a formal complaint with Beijing. It was the first time that China had sent missiles over the island.
Also on Thursday, two Chinese drones flew near Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, prompting Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force to send fighter jets in response.
The exercises are expected to last until Sunday local time in Beijing, according to Chinese state media.
Japan and other G7 economies have urged China to suspend exercises in the strait and maintain the status quo in the region.
Beijing responded with a diplomatic attack, canceling future phone calls between Chinese and US defense leaders, annual naval meetings between the two countries and scheduled meetings between Chinese and Japanese officials.
On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced a series of countermeasures against the United States, including sanctions against Pelosi and his immediate family.
China has also suspended bilateral climate talks; cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants, transnational crimes and drug trafficking; and legal assistance in criminal matters.
The White House on Friday accused China of “punishing the whole world” by ending climate cooperation, while the Defense Department said China had “chosen to overreact and use speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activities in and around the country”. Taiwan Strait.
John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council, said not all communications had been cut between the United States and China and that some channels between senior leaders remained open – but added that the suspensions were always an “irresponsible act”.