China has launched major military exercises in six areas around Taiwan. The Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China, may remain a route to avoid for ships and aircraft until Sunday. China also fired missiles at training zones in the water. Beijing reacts to American politician Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China has announced that it has begun large-scale military exercises near the island of Taiwan on Thursday afternoon (local time) in response to the visit of US politician Nancy Pelosi. The activities include “attacking sea and land targets and controlling airspace,” the China News Agency reported. Xinhua. These are the largest military maneuvers ever around the island. The drills block the Taiwan Strait, a major shipping lane that separates the island from mainland China.
China advises ships and aircraft to stay away. Ships are now sailing along the east side of the island, causing a three-day delay, say Bloomberg. The disruption of this important route could be problematic for global supply chains. In addition to the military, China is also showing its teeth in trade. China announced that the exercises will last until Sunday afternoon. According to Taiwan, eighteen international flight routes are affected by the exercises.
Flirting with the center line that separates water
The exercises took place in six areas around Taiwan. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, 11 Chinese Dongfeng ballistic missiles landed in the waters northeast and southwest of the island. Two Chinese missiles were fired by China near the Matsu Islands, close to the Chinese coast, at the Chinese training zone. China confirmed the impacts and said each of the missiles hit the targets accurately. It has been since 1996 that China has launched missiles into the waters around Taiwan.
On the sea itself, China is flirting with the center line that separates Chinese and Taiwanese waters. About ten Chinese naval vessels and 22 Chinese military aircraft should have briefly crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait on Thursday morning, according to a Taiwanese source. The warships would pass some distance apart from either side. Taiwan is also said to have deployed missile systems to monitor Chinese air force activity near the center line.
Cyber warfare tactics are also said to have been deployed. According to the Taiwanese cabinet, the websites of the defense and foreign ministries were hacked and hackers attacked the presidential office.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, said she will not instigate a conflict, but that Taiwan will vigorously defend its sovereignty and national security. His State Department accuses China of following the example of North Korea, which also launches missiles into the sea at neighboring countries. Taiwan calls on China to “restrain itself” and asks the international community to condemn the military drills.
‘Miscalculations with unpredictable consequences’
Beijing had already announced the military exercises on Tuesday in response to the visit of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, to Taiwan. China views the island nation as a renegade province and views Pelosi’s visit as a violation of sovereignty and a serious provocation. Beijing suspects that Pelosi would aim for an independent Taiwan. The US, in turn, said China should not misuse the visit as a pretext to occupy Taiwan.
The tensions cause great concern in the neighboring countries. At a summit in Cambodia, foreign ministers from Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, warned of “miscalculations, serious confrontation, open conflict and unpredictable consequences for the major powers.”