- Chinese military exercises involving live fire have begun.
- Suspicious drones are flying over remote islands in Taiwan.
- Taiwan says several government websites have been hacked.
- China says it is an internal matter.
TAIPEI: China launched unprecedented live-fire military exercises in six regions of Taiwan on Thursday, a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the autonomous island, which Beijing claims as its sovereign territory.
Shortly after the scheduled start at 0400 GMT, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said that the exercises have started and will end at 0400 GMT on Sunday. It said these would include direct fire into the waters and airspace surrounding Taiwan.
Taiwanese officials have said the exercises violate UN rules, invade Taiwan’s territorial space and are a direct challenge to free air and maritime navigation.
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party said China was carrying out drills along the busiest international waterways and aviation routes and it was “irresponsible, illegitimate behavior”.
Taiwan’s cabinet spokesman strongly condemned the drills, adding that the websites of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Office were attacked by hackers.
Chinese naval vessels and military aircraft briefly crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait several times on Thursday morning, a Taiwanese source told Reuters.
As of Thursday afternoon, military aircraft from both sides remained in and near the area.
Taiwan has scrambled jets and deployed missile systems to track several Chinese aircraft that cross the line.
“They went in and then flew out. They keep harassing us,” the Taiwanese source said.
On Wednesday night, hours after Pelosi left for South Korea, unidentified aircraft, likely drones, flew over Taiwan’s Kinmen Islands off the mainland coast, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and reserves the right to take it by force, said on Thursday that its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal matter.
China’s Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office said “our punishment of Taiwan independence advocates, foreign forces, is reasonable and legal.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan “a crazy, irresponsible and highly unreasonable” act by the United States. CCTV Reported
Addressing a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wang said China has made great diplomatic efforts to avert the crisis, but it will never allow its core interests to be hurt.
The foreign ministers warned in an earlier statement that tensions over the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculations, serious confrontations, open conflicts and unpredictable outcomes” between major powers.
Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced earlier this week with a locator map circulated by China’s state news agency Xinhua – a factor that some analysts and Shows the need for scholars to play to domestic and foreign audiences.
On Thursday, the top eight trending items on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service were related to Taiwan, with Pelosi expressing support for the exercises or anger.
“Let’s reunite the motherland,” wrote several users.
In Beijing, security around the US embassy on Thursday remained unusually tight as it has been this week. There were no signs of significant protests or calls for boycotts of American products.
“I think it (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” said Zhao, a man in the capital’s central business district. “It gives us an opportunity to encircle Taiwan, then use that opportunity to seize Taiwan by force. I think we should thank Comrade Pelosi.”
Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged U.S. solidarity during her brief stay, adding that Chinese anger would not deter world leaders from visiting there.
China protested his visit by summoning the US ambassador to Beijing and halting several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it very clear,” Pelosi told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – A red line for China.
“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is critical, and that’s the message we’re carrying here today.”
The foreign ministers of the United States and 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 her rights to visit Taiwan, while stressing that the trip would not be a violation of Chinese sovereignty or America’s longstanding “one China” policy. does not violate
The United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is obligated under US law to provide it with the means of self-defense.
China sees the US official’s visit to Taiwan as an encouraging sign for the pro-independence camp on the island. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.