(CNN) — Chinese warships and planes carried out military exercises in waters near Taiwan on Friday, the island’s Defense Ministry said, as tensions in the region rose following a visit by the speaker of the US House of Representatives. , Nancy Pelosi, to the island this week.
The ministry said Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) forces crossed the median line, the midpoint between the island and mainland China, in a move it called a “highly provocative act.”
The line has previously been an informal but widely respected border control between Beijing and Taipei.
Taiwan’s military responded with radio warnings and put air patrol forces, naval ships and ground-based missile systems on alert, the ministry added.
On Friday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said the island stood for “freedom and democracy” and that “the evil next-door neighbor flexed his muscles at our door and arbitrarily sabotaged (one of) the most the world with military exercises”.
The skies and waters around Taiwan have become a focal point as Beijing escalates tensions not only with Taiwan, but also with neighboring Japan, which lodged a formal protest with China after five projectiles landed in the Zone. Exclusive Economic Area (EEZ) of Japan.
The missiles were among several launched by Beijing on Thursday, some of which flew over Taiwan, as Pelosi headed 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 considers its territory, even though it has never controlled it, most notably during the Taiwan Strait crisis in the 1990s. 1990.
But the missiles that flew over the island represented a significant escalation, and US officials have warned there could be more to come.
“We anticipate that China might take steps like this — in fact, I described them to you in quite a bit of detail the other day,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters on Thursday. “We also hope that these actions will continue and that the Chinese will continue to react in the coming days.”
A US aircraft carrier will remain in the area around Taiwan for several more days to “monitor the situation,” Kirby added.
On Friday, Kishida called the Chinese military drills “a serious problem related to the security of our country and its people” and called for the drills to be immediately suspended.
Japan and the United States “will work together to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he added.
Speaking in Tokyo on Friday, Pelosi accused China of trying to “isolate Taiwan,” pointing to the island’s exclusion from international groups such as the World Health Organization.
“They may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there,” he said.
He added that his visit to Taiwan had been about maintaining the status quo, not changing it.
Missiles pose “no risk”
China began military exercises around the island on Thursday, firing multiple missiles into waters off the northeast and southwest of Taiwan the day after Pelosi left.
A Chinese military expert confirmed on state broadcaster CCTV that the conventional missiles flew over the main island of Taiwan, including the airspace covered by Taiwanese missile defenses.
“We hit the targets under the observation of the US Aegis combat system, which means the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets in the waters,” said Maj. Gen. Meng Xiangqing, professor of strategy at the Beijing National Defense University.
In a statement Thursday night, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the missiles had traveled above the atmosphere and therefore posed no risk to the island.
Authorities did not activate air strike alerts because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan, the ministry said. The ministry added that it will not release any more information about the trajectory of the missiles to protect its intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Five ballistic missiles are believed to have fallen within Japan’s EEZ, including four believed to have flown over Taiwan, Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.
“This is a serious problem that affects the security of Japan and the security of its citizens. We strongly condemn it,” Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters during a news conference.
China also sent 22 fighter jets to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, all of which crossed the median line.
This comes after similar Chinese incursions a day earlier across the median line.
Thursday’s raids were carried out by 12 Su-30 fighter jets, eight J-11 fighter jets and two J-16 fighter jets, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Later Thursday, the ministry said it detected four drones flying over “restricted waters” around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands near mainland China. The ministry said Taiwan’s military fired flares to warn the drones, but did not specify the type or origin of the devices.
On Friday, a Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the government’s English-language website and the ministry’s website had detected a large number of attacks on Tuesday, the day Pelosi landed in Taiwan. The IP addresses behind the attacks came from China and Russia, among other places, with the intention of crippling government sites, the spokesman said.
It added that websites were back to normal after emergency repair work, but “massive attacks with malicious intent… by hostile forces abroad” continued on Thursday and Friday.
In a speech on Thursday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen condemned China’s military exercises as “irresponsible” and said 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 safeguard democracy and freedom,” he added.
He also thanked the Group of Seven, made up of the world’s largest economies, which issued a statement on Wednesday expressing concern over China’s live-fire exercises and urging Beijing not to change the status quo in the region.
The exercises have also caused disruption to flight and ship schedules, with some international flights cancelled, while ships are being urged to use alternate routes to various ports around the island.
On Tuesday, China’s Defense Ministry said it would hold its exercises in six zones around Taiwan, warning ships and planes to stay out of the areas during the exercises.
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 Jozuka in Tokyo, Laura He in Hong Kong, Eric Cheung in Taipei and Sam Fossum in Washington contributed to this report.