China fires missiles near Taiwan waters as live-fire drills intensify

The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement that multiple missiles had been fired into the sea off the eastern part of Taiwan. He said all the missiles hit their target accurately.

“The entire live-fire training mission was successfully completed and control of the relevant air and sea area has now been lifted,” the statement said.

Earlier, the Eastern Theater Command said it had conducted long-range live-fire training in the Taiwan Strait, state broadcaster CCTV reported, as part of planned military exercises around the island.

Taiwan reported long-range Chinese rockets had landed near its islands of Matsu, Wuqiu, Dongyin, which are in the Taiwan Strait but located closer to the mainland than the main island of Taiwan.

Chinese state media said exercises to simulate an air and sea “blockade” around Taiwan had begun on Wednesday, but offered little hard evidence to support the claim. Later Thursday, footage showed military helicopters flying over Pingtan Island, one of Taiwan’s closest points to mainland China.

The military posture was a deliberate show of force after Pelosi left the island Wednesday night for South Korea, one of the last stops on an Asia tour that ends in Japan this weekend.

Hours after he left Taipei on Wednesday, the island’s Defense Ministry said China has sent more than 20 fighter jets through the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the midpoint between the mainland and Taiwan that Beijing says that he does not recognize but that he generally respects.
Tourists watch as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan Island, one of the closest points in mainland China to Taiwan on August 4, 2022.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said its military remained in a “normal” but cautious posture, calling the live-fire drills an “irrational act” intended to “change the status quo.”

“We are closely monitoring enemy activities around the Taiwan Sea and outlying islands, and will act appropriately,” the ministry said in a statement.

exercises exerting pressure

Long before Pelosi’s nearly 24-hour visit to Taiwan, China had warned that her presence was not welcome. The ruling Chinese Communist Party claims the autonomous island as its own territory, even though it has never controlled it.

China issued a map showing six areas around Taiwan that would be the site of drills in the coming days. But on Thursday The Taiwan Maritime and Port Office said in a notice that China had added a seventh military exercise area for ships and aircraft to avoid “in the waters around eastern Taiwan.”

Chinese state media on Thursday described a wide range of objectives for the exercises, including attacks on land and sea targets.

“The exercises (are) focused on key training sessions including joint blockade, assault on sea targets, strikes on land targets and airspace control operations, and the joint combat capabilities of the troops were put to the test in the operations. military,” said an announcement by the Xinhua news agency attributed to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, which has responsibility for areas near Taiwan.

Chinese military helicopters fly over Pingtan Island in Fujian province on August 4.

Meanwhile, the Global Times tabloid said the drills involved some of China’s newest and most sophisticated weapons, including J-20 stealth fighters and DF-17 hypersonic missiles, and that some missiles could be fired on the island, a move that It would be extremely provocative.

“The exercises are unprecedented as the PLA’s conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island of Taiwan for the first time,” the Global Times said, citing experts.

“The PLA forces will enter areas within 12 nautical miles of the island and the so-called median line will cease to exist.”

Does Taiwan have its own airspace?  China conducts military exercises near island after Pelosi's visit

Accounts from Taiwan of the Chinese military movement included the fighter jets crossing the median line and a report by Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency, citing government sources, that two of China’s most powerful warships , Type 55 destroyers, were sighted on Tuesday. central and southeastern coast of the island, being the closest within 37 miles (60 km) of land.

But there was little corroboration or firm evidence provided by China to support the kind of claims published in the Global Times.

China’s state television offered videos of fighter jets taking off, ships at sea and missiles in motion, but the dates that video was filmed could not be verified.

Some analysts were skeptical that Beijing could pull off what they were threatening, such as a blockade of Taiwan.

“The official announcement (of the blockade) refers to a few days, which would make it difficult to qualify it in practical terms as a blockade,” said Alessio Patalano, professor of warfare and strategy at King’s College London.

“Blocks are difficult to execute and long to implement. This exercise is not that,” he said.

Patalano said the biggest impact of the exercises would be psychological.

“During the time period in question, ships and planes are likely to be diverted to avoid the area, but this is a primary goal of the chosen locations: to create disruption, discomfort and fear of the worst to come,” he said.

Chinese military helicopters fly over Pingtan Island, one of the closest points in mainland China to Taiwan on August 4, 2022.

Rerouting of planes and ships

China’s retaliatory drills have already caused disruptions to flight and ship schedules in Taiwan, though the island is trying to lessen their impact.

Taiwan’s transport minister said the deals had been reached an agreement with Japan and the Philippines to divert 18 international flight routes leaving the island, affecting some 300 flights in total, to avoid PLA live-fire drills.

Korean Air told CNN on Thursday that it has canceled flights from Incheon to Taiwan scheduled for Friday and Saturday for security reasons while China conducts its military exercises. Flights will resume on Sunday.

On Wednesday, the Taiwan Maritime and Port Bureau issued three notices, asking ships to use alternative routes to seven ports around the island.

China’s planned live-fire drills were also causing concern in Japan.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the drills posed a security threat to his country.

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One of the six exercise areas set up by China was near Japan’s Yonaguni Island, part of Okinawa Prefecture and just 68 miles (110 kilometers) off the coast of Taiwan.

That same Chinese exercise zone is also close to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, an uninhabited rocky range known as Diaoyus in China, and over which Beijing claims sovereignty.

“In particular, a training area has been set up in the waters near Japan, and if China were to conduct live ammunition exercises in that area, it could affect the security of Japan and its people,” Matsuno said.

The US military, meanwhile, remained silent on the Chinese exercises and did not provide any answers to questions from CNN on Thursday.

Pelosi met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei on August 3.

In addition to closely monitoring Chinese military movements on the island, Taiwan also said it would strengthen security against cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.

Taiwanese cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told a news conference on Wednesday that the government had improved security at key infrastructure points and raised the cybersecurity alert level in all government offices.

Taiwan anticipates further “cognitive warfare,” referring to disinformation campaigns used to influence public opinion, Lo said.

CNN’s Wayne Chang and Eric Cheung contributed to this report.

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