China sends ships and planes close to Taiwan as Strait tensions rise

The ministry said Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces crossed the median line – a point halfway between the island and mainland China – in what was described as a “highly provocative act.” Previously, this line was the unofficial but widely respected border of control between Beijing and Taipei.

The Taiwanese military responded with radio warnings and put air patrols, naval ships and coastal missile systems on alert, the ministry added.

On Friday, Taiwan’s premier Su Tseng-chang said the island represented “freedom and democracy” and that “an evil neighbor neighbor flexed his muscles on our doorstep and arbitrarily sabotaged (one of) the world’s busiest waterways with military exercises.” “

The skies and waters around Taiwan have taken center stage as Beijing expresses its fury over Pelosi’s visit to the island while ratcheting up tensions with neighboring Japan, which filed a formal protest with China after five shells landed near Japan’s islands.

The missiles were among those launched by Beijing on Thursday – some of them over Taiwan – as Pelosi was en route to Tokyo, where she met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

China has previously fired missiles into the waters surrounding Taiwan, a democratic island of 24 million that the Chinese Communist Party claims as its territory despite never having control over it, most notably during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the 1990s.

But the missiles flying over the island marked a significant escalation, and US officials warn it could be even bigger.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, August 5, 2022.

“We expected China to take these steps — in fact, I described them in some detail for you just the other day,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters at the White House on Thursday. . “We also expect these actions to continue and that the Chinese will continue to respond in the coming days.”

The US aircraft carrier will remain in the area around Taiwan for a few more days to “monitor the situation,” Kirby added.

On Friday, Kishida said that China’s military exercises are “a serious issue concerning the security of our country and its people” and called for an immediate cessation of the exercises. He added that Japan and the US “will work together to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait.”

Speaking in Tokyo on Friday, Pelosi blamed China or trying to “isolate Taiwan” by pointing to the island’s exclusion from international groups such as the World Health Organization.

“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by not allowing us to go there,” she said.

She added that the purpose of her visit to Taiwan was to maintain the status quo, not change it.

Missiles are not dangerous

China began military exercises around the island on Thursday, firing several missiles into waters near northeast and southwest Taiwan the day after Pelosi left.

A Chinese military expert confirmed on state broadcaster CCTV that conventional missiles flew over Taiwan’s main island, including airspace covered by Taiwanese defensive missiles.

“We are hitting targets under the supervision of the American Aegis combat system, which means that the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets on the water,” the major said. Gene. Meng Xiangqing is professor of strategy at the National Defense University in Beijing.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement late Thursday that the missiles had passed above the atmosphere and therefore did not pose a threat to the island.

The ministry said authorities did not announce the air raid because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan. The ministry added that it would not disclose further information about the missile’s trajectory in order to protect its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

China fires missiles near Taiwan in a live fire exercise as the PLA surrounds the island

Five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, including four believed to have flown over Taiwan, Japan’s defense ministry said Thursday.

“This is a serious issue that concerns the security of Japan and the security of its citizens. We strongly condemn it,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters at a press conference.

China also sent 22 warplanes to the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, all of which crossed the median line.

This follows a similar Chinese invasion a day earlier across the median line, which was previously the unofficial but largely respected border of control between Beijing and Taipei.

Thursday’s raids involved 12 Su-30 fighters, eight J-11 fighters and two J-16 fighters, Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

Later on Thursday, the ministry said it had spotted four drones flying over “forbidden waters” around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands off mainland China. The ministry said the Taiwanese military fired flares to scare away the drones, but did not specify the type or origin of the devices.

The People's Liberation Army of China (PLA) conducts missile tests in waters off Taiwan's east coast from an undisclosed location, August 4, 2022.

Trading failures

In a speech Thursday, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen denounced China’s military exercises as “irresponsible,” saying they marked “a deliberate and continuous escalation of military threats.”

“I must emphasize that we do not seek to escalate conflicts or provoke disputes, but we will firmly defend our sovereignty and national security, as well as democracy and freedom,” she added.

She also thanked the Group of Seven, made up of the world’s largest economies, which issued a statement on Wednesday expressing concern about China’s live-fire exercise and urging Beijing not to change the status quo in the region.

The exercise also caused disruptions to flight and ship schedules, with some international flights being canceled and ships being asked to use alternative routes for several ports around the island.

On Tuesday, China’s defense ministry said it would conduct its drills in six zones around Taiwan, warning ships and aircraft not to be in the areas during the drill.

The Taiwan Strait is a key trade route for ships carrying goods between major Northeast Asian economies such as China, Japan and South Korea and the rest of the world.

CNN’s Gawon Bae and Yong Xiong in Seoul, Emiko Yozuka in Tokyo, Laura Hye in Hong Kong, Eric Cheung in Taipei, and Sam Fossum in Washington DC contributed to this report.