Less than 24 hours after the visit to Taiwan of the president of the US Legislature, Nancy Pelosi, China has begun military exercises with live fire around the island, considered by Taipei as a “blockade” and a “violation of their rights”, and which have included the use of long-range missiles.
The maneuvers caused the closure of sea and air space in six areas around the island, one of them about 20 kilometers from the coast of Kaohsiung, the main city in southern Taiwan.
MISSILES IN THE STRAIT
The exercises, which will last until Sunday, today included long-range artillery firing practice with “multiple types of conventional missiles” off the east coast of Taiwan, a mission in which the projectiles “hit the target with precision” and that it was ” successfully completed” according to the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, Chinese Army).
According to the Command’s spokesman, Shi Yi, the exercises were aimed at “testing the accuracy” of the missiles and their “air exclusion capability”.
This afternoon the blockade of air and sea space off the western coast of Taiwan ceased after “artillery practices hit their targets,” explained Shi, who did not specify whether he was referring to all the maneuvers announced until Sunday or simply at Thursday.
TO “SLIP KNOT”
According to Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defense University quoted by the state network CGTN, the maneuvers were announced 38 hours in advance, giving time for “ships to adjust their routes” and ensuring that “no civilians were injured.”
Although China has carried out other war drills in the Taiwan Strait in recent years, the ones this week are different because “they cover a larger area, involve more military elements and are expected to be highly effective,” he said. Meng.
The exercises take place in six zones around the island, one of them about 20 kilometers from the coast of Kaohsiung, the main city in southern Taiwan, a design that is intended to “create a kind of slipknot” that can be “squeeze” to “contain the separatist forces on the island,” the professor considered.
The Chinese military actions are “necessary, just and resolute”, defended today the spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Hua Chunying, who added that they will serve as a “warning” to “the provocateurs”, among whom she included the “Taiwanese secessionists ” and those “external forces meddling in China’s internal affairs”.
TAIWAN “WON’T BACK DOWN”
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, meanwhile, assured that it had “instant knowledge” of the missile launch thanks to “reconnaissance and surveillance” tasks, while condemning the actions for “disturbing peace in the region.”
Hours earlier, Taiwan had registered the entry of 27 Chinese military aircraft into its self-defined Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), against which its Army activated a combat air patrol, issued radio warnings and deployed missile defense systems to monitor Chinese appliances.
The Taiwanese Ministry also disclosed that Taiwanese forces had to fire flares twice last night to scare away a Chinese military drone that was flying over the vicinity of the Kinmen Islands (also known as Quemoy), controlled by Taipei despite being just 30 kilometers from the island . southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen.
In recent decades, these islands have been the target of bombing by China when tensions between Taipei and the island reached the highest levels.
Taiwanese military representatives have already warned that the maneuvers would amount to a “blockade of the island” and, in recent hours, its effect has been noted on air and sea traffic.
At Taoyuan airport (north), the most important on the island, at least 40 flights have been canceled this Thursday, affected by restrictions on air traffic, according to Taiwanese media.
Although the island’s Minister of Transportation, Wang Guocai, explained that the journeys of the ships “will take a few more hours” because they are forced to avoid inaccessible areas, he pointed out that “cumulative impact” will be felt in the future if the exercises Chinese military “extend” in time.
The island’s Ministry of Defense assured that it is monitoring the surroundings of ancient Formosa in response to “irrational activities” by the Chinese Army and that, although it does not want “an escalation” of the situation, “it will not back down” on what regards the “security and sovereignty” of Taiwan.
Despite the fact that testimonies on social networks suggest that life in Taiwan is going on normally, local authorities have asked the population to take precautionary measures: the City Council of the capital, Taipei, today its residents asked to download a mobile application that shows the more than 5,000 bomb shelters in the city.
China claims sovereignty over the island and has considered Taiwan a rebellious province since the Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communists.