TAIPEI, Taiwan — China began its promised military drills in the airspace and waters around Taiwan on Thursday as the island claimed by Beijing prepares for the possible fallout of U.S. Spokesperson Nancy Pelosis’ visit.
China’s People’s Liberation Army fired multiple ballistic missiles into waters off northeast and southwest Taiwan as of 1:56 p.m. (1:56 p.m. ET), Taiwan’s military news agency reported, citing the defense ministry. The ministry condemned China’s “irrational actions” and said they undermined peace in the region.
About an hour earlier, the PLA began what are believed to be unprecedented live-fire drills in six zones effectively encircling Taiwan’s main island, which lies about 100 miles off the coast of China. The drills were announced shortly after Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan late Tuesday night and are expected to continue through Sunday.
Chinese state media reported that the exercises “had the expected results.”
On Wednesday evening, Pelosi and her delegation of members of the House of Representatives left Taiwan for South Korea, the fourth stop on a tour of Asia that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Pelosi, a longtime critic of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, was the top US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Beijing, which claims the self-governing democracy of 24 million people as its territory, viewed their visit as a violation of its sovereignty.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the spokesman’s visit as “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational,” Reuters reported, citing Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Speaking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wang said at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that China is taking the necessary and timely defensive countermeasures to protect its sovereignty and security.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry criticized what it called China’s “provocative actions.”
“The practice of barring ships from entering certain sea and airspaces will seriously affect international shipping, economic and trade exchanges,” spokeswoman Joanne Ou said in a statement on Thursday, adding that the Taiwanese government is “respecting its national will firmly defend sovereignty and territorial integrity. ”
Taiwan’s defense ministry reiterated its determination to avoid an escalation of cross-strait tensions.
Taiwan’s armed forces “are operating as usual, monitoring our surroundings in response to irrational activities by the PRC aimed at changing the status quo and destabilizing the region’s security,” according to the ministry said on Twitter on Thursday, using an abbreviation for China’s official name People’s Republic of China. “We are not seeking escalation, but we are not backing down when it comes to our security and sovereignty.”
China had already increased military activity around Taiwan before Pelosi arrived on the island. On Wednesday, while she was there, she sent 27 fighter jets into Taiwan’s self-proclaimed air defense identification zone, which is wider than the island’s official airspace.
Two of the formations crossed the center line in the Taiwan Straits, which is a deviation from the usual trajectory, according to mapping provided by the ministry. China conducts such military operations almost daily, but the number is usually in the single digits.
On Wednesday night after Pelosi left, Taiwan’s military fired warning missiles at an unidentified plane over Kinmen, a Taiwanese island about 6 miles off the coast of China. The Department of Defense said on Thursday it appears to be an unmanned drone.
The ministry stressed that the move was in line with normal operating procedures and urged people to remain calm.
While Chinese President Xi Jinping sees Taiwan’s “reunification” with the mainland as an historic inevitability, recent opinion polls show that the majority of Taiwanese have no desire to become part of China, preferring instead to maintain the status quo.
China repeatedly warned the US about the visit in the days leading up to Pelosi’s visit, promising there would be “serious consequences.” The White House says the speaker’s visit is consistent with US policy towards Taiwan and should not be used to foment a crisis.
The international community has expressed concern over tensions in the Taiwan Strait ASEAN saying the situation “could lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between the great powers”.
Foreign ministers from Group of Seven countries, including the United States, said China’s response risks destabilizing the region.
“There is no justification for using a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activities in the Taiwan Strait,” one said expression On Wednesday.
China’s foreign ministry objected to the statement and canceled a meeting between Wang and Japan’s foreign minister, a G-7 member, to be held in Cambodia on the sidelines of the ASEAN event.
China is right about the measures it has taken in response to Pelosi’s visit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular news conference on Thursday.
“The United States’ malicious provocation came first, and China’s legitimate defense came second,” she said.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/china-begins-live-fire-drills-taiwan-pelosi-visit-rcna41461 China to begin live-fire drills in Taiwan after Pelosi visit