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 middle line of the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s armed forces have issued an alert, dispatched air and naval patrols across the island and activated ground-based missile systems in response to the situation, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Twitter.
China launched live-fire military drills after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying her visit 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.
Separately on Saturday, Taiwan’s military spotted four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the area of the offshore Kinmen County, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
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.
Taiwan’s military fired warning flares in response.
“Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond as needed,” Taiwanese 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.
Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands administered by Taiwan. The islands are located about 6.2 miles east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province.
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 exercises, while the US has numerous naval bases 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 talks with the US and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
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.