China fired ballistic missiles and deployed fighter jets and warships on Thursday as it held its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, a show of force sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
In a show of power and anger against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, the Chinese military Thursday launched missiles around the self-ruled island.
The Rocket Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched “multiple types of conventional missiles into several designated sea regions east of Taiwan, accurately hitting targets,” state-run Chinese daily Global Times reported.
“The missile launches tested the rocket force’s strike precision and area denial capabilities,” the PLA spokesperson said, adding that the “relevant sea and airspace control off the eastern coast of Taiwan island has been lifted since the live-fire missile drills have hit the targets precisely.”
Tan Kefei, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of National Defense, said: “The PLA’s words count. The PLA joint drills encircling the Taiwan island are exactly aimed to deter the collision between the US and the island.”
Several videos on social media showed smoke billowing out of the southernmost tips of the Chinese mainland that appear to be a spot of Chinese weaponry from where the missiles are being fired.
Hectic land, air, and naval activities were reported from Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, in the Fujian province.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the Chinese military had launched “several ballistic” and “long-range” missiles into waters around Taiwan’s northeast and southwest around 1.56 p.m. (0556GMT).
It said its armed forces are “operating as usual and monitor our surroundings in response to irrational activities” from China “aiming for changing the status quo and destabilizing the region’s security.”
“We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty,” the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said.
Hua Chungying, spokesman of China’s Foreign Ministry, justified Chinese military actions saying they “are just, necessary and resolute.”
“The drills are a warning to provocateurs, especially the Taiwan secessionists and external forces who interfered with China’s internal affairs,” Hua said.
G7 nations and the EU “unjustly accused China on the Taiwan question, distorting black and white,” over which China is extremely dissatisfied, she added.
Hua also confirmed that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will not meet his Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi in Cambodia where the duo, besides top diplomats and officials from over 40 countries, are participating in senior-level meetings of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an economic and military bloc.
The decision comes in the wake of a G7 statement on the current crisis in the Taiwan Strait accusing China of risking “unnecessary escalation” with its latest actions. Japan is member of G7.
“G7 turned a blind eye to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit before it happened, but now accused China of taking actions of justice. Their hypocrisy and ugliness have been fully exposed,” Hua said.
“The one-China principle is an important political foundation for G7 to establish diplomatic ties with China. Legislators from these countries are supposed to follow the diplomatic policies that their governments acknowledged and committed to,” she added.
On whether Chinese military drills will become new normal in the Taiwan Strait, Hua replied: “It depends on the US and ‘secessionist’ forces in Taiwan.”
“As long as ‘secessionist’ actions go on,” Hua said: “China will not stop displaying determination to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
China has mounted massive military drills surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing considers its breakaway province, from Thursday until Sunday.
The military response comes after Pelosi landed on the self-ruled island on Tuesday night on an unannounced visit triggering anger from Beijing which sees it as a violation of its territorial integrity.
Riyaz ul Khaliq/AA