China Conducts Missile Military Exercise Near Taiwan | World

KEELUNG, Taiwan (AP) — China on Thursday carried out “precision missile strikes” in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters off Taiwan’s east coast, as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level. highest in decades, after the visit of the president of the House of Representatives of the United States, Nancy Pelosi.

Hours earlier, Beijing had announced military exercises involving the Navy and Air Force, among other departments, in six areas around Taiwan, which the Chinese government claims as its own territory that it would annex by force if necessary.

Five of the missiles launched by China fell inside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island south of Japan’s main archipelago, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said that Japan protested to China over the launch of the missiles, calling them “serious threats to the national security of Japan and the security of the Japanese people.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry also speculated that four missiles passed over Taipei, the capital city, through the mainland, according to a statement posted on Twitter by its embassy in Washington. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry did not deny the claims, saying the trajectory was “out of the atmosphere and not detrimental to the large area on land it flew over.”

The maneuvers were in reaction to Pelosi’s visit to the island this week, and their purpose is to raise awareness of the Chinese threat to attack the autonomous island republic. In addition to its moves to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, China has long threatened military retaliation for steps the island has taken to cement its de facto independence with the backing of key allies like Washington.

China fired long-range explosive projectiles, said the Eastern Command of the People’s Liberation Army, the Communist Party’s military arm. It also said that it carried out multiple launches of conventional missiles in three different areas in the eastern waters off Taiwan. A graphic attached to the broadcast by state broadcaster CCTV showed they occurred in the north, east and south.

“All the missiles hit the target accurately,” added the Command, which did not provide further details.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby condemned the launches and military activity around Taiwan.

“China has chosen to overreact and to use the House Speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase its provocative military activity in the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said Thursday. “We will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific in accordance with international law, just as we have done in our decades of support for Taiwan and in defense of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

For its part, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had tracked the launch of Chinese Dongfeng-series missiles from 1:56 p.m. Thursday. In a statement, Taiwanese authorities explained that they used various early warning surveillance systems to monitor the projectiles. It later said it counted 11 Dongfeng missiles in the waters to the north, east and south of the island.

The ministry added that it tracked long-distance rocket and ammunition firing on outlying islands in Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen criticized the maneuvers during a video address, saying China “destroyed the status quo and violated our sovereignty” with its “irresponsible acts.” She called on China to be “sensible and measured.” ”.

“We are calm and not impulsive, we are sensible and not provocative,” he said. “But we will also be firm and not step back.”

Tsai said Taiwan is in communication with its allies to ensure the situation does not escalate further.

The Taiwanese defense ministry explained that its forces are on alert and monitoring the situation while trying to prevent an escalation in tensions. In addition, for months civil defense drills have been carried out and notices have been placed in the assigned anti-aircraft shelters.

China’s “irrational behavior” tries to upset the status quo and disturb regional peace and stability, the ministry said.

“The three service branches will combine their efforts with the entire population to jointly safeguard national security and territorial integrity,” while adapting to the situation as it progresses, the statement added.

China’s official Xinhua news agency said the exercises were joint operations focusing on “blockades, assaulting sea targets, attacking land targets and airspace control.”

Ma Chen-kun, a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University, said the drills were aimed at showing China’s military capability to deploy precision weapons to cut Taiwan’s ties with the outside world and facilitate the arrival of troops. .

Associated Press writer David Rising in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, contributed to this report

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