China fires missiles in largest-ever exercises off Taiwan

  • Chinese military drills include missile launches
  • Suspicious drones fly over Taiwan’s outlying islands
  • Taiwan says several government websites have been hacked
  • China says it’s an internal matter

TAIPEI, Aug 4 (Reuters) – China fired several missiles around Taiwan on Thursday as it launched unprecedented military drills a day after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island which Beijing considers its sovereign territory.

Shortly after the scheduled start at 04:00 GMT, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said the drills had started and would end at 04:00 GMT on Sunday. He said the exercises, the largest ever conducted by China in the Taiwan Strait, would include live fire on the waters and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan. Read more

China’s Eastern Theater Command said it conducted several conventional missile launches in waters off Taiwan’s east coast as part of planned drills.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The last time China fired missiles into the waters around Taiwan was in 1996.

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

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said several Dongfeng missiles were fired into waters northeast and southwest of the island. Read more

Two missiles were also launched by China near Taiwan’s Matsu Islands, which lie off the coast of China, at around 2 p.m. local time (0600 GMT) towards drilling areas announced by China, according to an internal security report. Taiwanese consulted by Reuters. and confirmed by a Taiwanese security source. Read more

Taiwanese officials said the drills violate United Nations rules, invade Taiwan’s territorial space and pose a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation.

China is conducting drills on the busiest international waterways and air routes and it is “irresponsible and illegitimate behavior”, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has said.

Taiwan’s cabinet spokesperson, expressing strong condemnation of the drills, also said the websites of the Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry and presidential office were attacked by hackers.

Chinese navy ships and military aircraft briefly crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait several times on Thursday morning, a Taiwanese source briefed on the matter told Reuters. Read more

As of noon on Thursday, military vessels from both sides remained in and near the area.

Taiwan scrambled jets and deployed missile systems to track several Chinese planes crossing the line.

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

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory and reserves the right to take it by force, said Thursday its disputes with the self-governing island were an internal matter. Read more

“Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence stalwarts from outside forces is reasonable, legal,” the Beijing-based China Taiwan Affairs Office said.

‘COMRADE PELOSI’

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

Wang, speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, said China had made maximum diplomatic efforts to avert the crisis, but would not allow never that its fundamental interests are harmed.

In a statement, the foreign ministers previously warned that the volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflict and unpredictable consequences between major powers”. Read more

Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced with a location map released by China’s official Xinhua news agency earlier this week – a factor that some analysts and scholars say points to the need for s address a national and foreign public. Read more

On Thursday, the eight most popular posts on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service were Taiwan-related, with most expressing support for Pelosi’s drills or fury.

“Let’s unite the motherland,” several users wrote.

In Beijing, security in the area around the US embassy remained unusually tight on Thursday, as it has been throughout this week. There were no signs of any significant protests or calls to boycott American products.

“I think this (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” said a man named Zhao in the capital’s central business district. “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.”

AMERICAN SOLIDARITY

Pelosi, the highest U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged American solidarity during her brief stopover, adding that Chinese anger could not stop world leaders from visiting.

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

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

“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that is the message we bring here today.”

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.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said earlier in the week that Pelosi was within his rights to travel to Taiwan, while stressing that the trip was not a violation of Chinese sovereignty. or the longstanding US “one China” policy.

The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is required by US law to provide it with the means to defend itself.

China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as an encouraging signal for the island’s pro-independence camp. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; Additional reporting by Tony Munroe, Ryan Woo and Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Written by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment