China begins live-fire drills around Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi visit
China began its promised military drills around Taiwan on Thursday, as the island braces for the potential fallout of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — China began its promised military drills in the airspace and waters around Taiwan on Thursday, as the Beijing-claimed island braces for the potential fallout of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.
China’s People’s Liberation Army launched several ballistic missiles into waters off northeastern and southwestern Taiwan starting at 1:56 p.m. (1:56 a.m. ET), Taiwan’s military news agency reported, citing the defense ministry. The ministry condemned what it called China’s “irrational actions,” saying they undermined regional peace.
About an hour earlier, the PLA began what are believed to be unprecedented live-fire drills in six zones that effectively encircle Taiwan’s main island, which is about 100 miles off the coast of China. The drills were announced shortly after Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late Tuesday night, and are set to last until Sunday.
Chinese state media reported that the exercises had “achieved the expected results.”
On Wednesday evening, Pelosi and her delegation of House Democratic lawmakers departed Taiwan for South Korea, the fourth stop on a tour of Asia that also includes Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.
Pelosi, a longtime critic of China’s ruling Communist Party, was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. Beijing, which claims the self-ruling democracy of 24 million people as its territory, viewed her visit as an infringement of its sovereignty.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the speaker’s visit as “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational,” Reuters reported, citing Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Speaking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Wang said China was taking necessary and timely defensive countermeasures to protect its sovereignty and security.
Taiwan’s ministry of foreign affairs slammed what it called China’s “provocative actions.”
“The practice of not allowing ships to enter specific sea and airspace will seriously affect international shipping and economic and trade exchanges,” spokesperson Joanne Ou said in a statement Thursday, adding that the Taiwanese government will “firmly defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Taiwan’s ministry of defense repeated its resolve to avoid escalating tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwanese forces “are operating as usual and monitor our surroundings in response to irrational activities from PRC, aiming for changing the status quo & destabilizing the region’s security,” the ministry said on Twitter on Thursday, using an abbreviation for China’s formal name, the People’s Republic of China. “We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty.”