Taiwan said on Saturday that China’s military exercises appeared to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after several Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei that angered the Beijing.
Taiwan’s armed forces issued an alert, sent air and naval patrols around the island and activated ground-based missile systems in response to the Chinese drills, the Ministry of National Defense said. As of 5 p.m., 20 Chinese aircraft and 14 ships continued to conduct naval and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait, it said.
The ministry said the zones declared by China as no-go areas during drills for other ships and aircraft had “seriously damaged peace”. He stressed that Taiwan’s military does not seek war, but will prepare and respond accordingly.
China’s defense ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it conducted military drills as planned at sea and in the airspace in the north, southwest and east of Taiwan, focusing on “testing the capabilities” of land attack and sea attack. systems.
China launched live-fire military drills after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying it violated its “one China” policy. China sees the island as a breakaway province that will be annexed by force if necessary, and sees visits by foreign officials to Taiwan as recognition of its sovereignty.
Taiwan’s military also said it spotted four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the area of the offshore Kinmen County on Friday night and fired warning flares in response.
The four drones, which Taiwan believed to be Chinese, were spotted over the waters around the Kinmen island complex and nearby Lieyu Island and Beiding Islet, according to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command.
Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides that split amid civil war in 1949.
“Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond if necessary,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted.
“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop any escalation of the regional security situation,” he added.
Chinese military exercises began on Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. So far, the drills have included missile attacks on targets in the seas north and south of the island in the wake of the last major Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and organized civil defense drills, while the US has deployed numerous naval units in the region.
The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the US remains committed to a “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting.
China also suspended defense and climate talks with the US and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
Pelosi said Friday in Tokyo, the last stop on her Asia tour, that China will not be able to isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from traveling there.
Pelosi has long been an advocate for human rights in China. She, along with other lawmakers, visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.
Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at taking down Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry website doubled from Thursday to Friday, compared with similar attacks before Pelosi’s visit, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The ministry did not specify the origin of the attack.
Other ministries and government agencies, such as the Home Office, also faced similar attacks on their websites, according to the report.
A distributed denial of service attack aims to overload a website with requests for information that eventually crash it, making it inaccessible to other users.
Also on Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that the deputy head of Taiwan’s defense ministry’s research and development unit, Ou Yang Li-Hsing, was found dead in his hotel room after suffering a heart attack. He was 57 years old and had overseen several rocket production projects.
The report said his hotel room in southern Pingtung County, where he was on a business trip, showed no signs of a break-in.
The Taiwanese favor maintaining the status quo of the island’s de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island be united with the communist-controlled mainland.
Globally, most countries subscribe to the “one China” policy, which is a condition for maintaining diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Any company that fails to recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces a swift backlash, often with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott its products.
On Friday, Mars Wrigley, the maker of the Snickers candy bar, apologized after releasing a video and footage featuring South Korean boy band BTS that had referred to Taiwan as a country, prompting swift criticism from Chinese users.
In a statement on its Weibo account, the company expressed “deep apologies”.
“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts business in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations,” the statement said.
In a separate post, the company added that there is “only one China” and said that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”