Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has accused China of launching 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters off the island’s northeast and southwest as part of aggressive military exercises intended as an intimidating show of force.
Tensions in the region have escalated significantly following a visit to Taiwan this week by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, the third in line for the presidency and the highest-ranking American politician to visit the country in 25 years.
Beijing urged Ms Pelosi not to pay her respects to a region that has its own democratic political system, constitution and military but which China claims as its own, warning that the trip amounted to “playing with fire”.
After rejecting those threats and arriving in Taipei, the superpower ordered five days of live-fire drills and warned that regional conflict could become inevitable, raising tensions with the self-ruled republic to the highest levels since 1996.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said its armed forces used early warning, surveillance and reconnaissance systems to track the Dongfeng (or DF) missiles and condemned China’s “absurd actions that undermine regional peace.”
For its part, the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the ruling Communist Party of China, said on social media: “Precision missile strikes with long-range armed missiles were carried out on selected targets in the eastern Taiwan Strait area. The expected result was achieved.”
The rockets launched by the PLA Rocket Force are According to reports the DF-15B versions of China’s Dongfeng (“East Wind”) arsenal.
Originally developed during the Cold War era with the help of the Soviet Union, the DF series is manufactured by the Rocket Engine Technology Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
According Global securityThe DF-15 first appeared in the late 1980s and is a short-range, solid-fuel, single-stage ballistic missile similar in appearance to US Pershing missiles and based on a sophisticated guidance system located within its warhead .
It is launched vertically from a mobile transport vehicle and is 9.1 meters long with a range of 373 miles and a payload of 500 kg, typically used for strikes on small targets or specific areas.
Although designed to carry only conventional explosives, it is “probably” capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, like others in the DF family, analysts say.
Even without such a threat, a direct hit is said to be likely to result in a crater 30-50 meters in diameter.
The DF-15 is the same model that was launched in Taiwanese waters during the last major crisis in the region, when strikes were launched from nearby Fujian in June 1995 and again in March 1996.
Ma Chen-kun, a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University, said China’s current hostilities are aimed at demonstrating its military’s ability to develop precision weapons to sever the country’s ties with the outside world and facilitate troop landings .
The announced drills are “more comprehensive and if the People’s Liberation Army invades Taiwan in an all-out invasion, the specific actions it will take are all in this particular drill,” Professor Ma told The Associated Press.
“The main thing is that they will cut Taiwan’s ties with the outside world, from their sea. they will suppress the firepower of the coastal defenses.”