Keelung, Taiwan (AP) – China said it carried out “precision missile strikes” in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region. to its highest level in decades.
China announced earlier that military exercises by the navy, air force and other departments are taking place in six regions surrounding Taiwan, whose territories Beijing claims will be annexed by force if necessary.
The motivation for the exercises was to visit the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week and aims to announce China’s threat to attack the island’s self-governing republic. Besides its moves to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, China has long threatened military retaliation for the island’s moves to consolidate its de facto independence with the support of key allies including the United States.
The Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, the military wing of the ruling Communist Party, said in a statement on the media platform.
“The expected result has been achieved,” she added. No other details were mentioned.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it tracked the launch of China’s Dongfeng series missiles starting at 1:56 p.m. Thursday. It said in a statement that it used several surveillance early warning systems to track the missile launches, which were aimed at waters northeastern and southwestern Taiwan.
The Defense Ministry also said it tracked the firing of long-range missiles and ammunition on the remote islands of Matsu, Wuxiu and Dongyin.
Earlier in the day, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said its forces are on alert and monitoring the situation, while seeking to avoid escalating tensions. Civil defense training Last week, notices were placed on air raid shelters for months.
The ministry said China’s “irrational behavior” is intended to change the status quo and disrupt regional peace and stability.
“The three service branches will combine efforts with all people to jointly protect national security and territorial integrity” while adapting to the situation as it develops, the statement said.
Xinhua reported that the exercises were joint operations focusing on “blockade, attacking naval targets, striking land targets, and controlling airspace.”
Ma Chin-kun, a professor at the National Defense University in Taiwan, said the exercises are aimed at showing off the capability of the Chinese military. To deploy precision weapons to sever Taiwan’s ties with the outside and facilitate the landing of troops.
Ma said the announced exercises “are more complete, and if the People’s Liberation Army really invades Taiwan in an all-out invasion, the concrete actions it will take, they will all be in this very exercise.”
“The main thing is that they will cut off Taiwan’s ties to the outside world, and from their sea, and they will suppress the firepower of coastal defense,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mood in Taiwan was calm.
In Keelung, a city on the northern coast of Taiwan and close to two of the declared drilling areas, swimmers took their morning laps in a natural pool built into the ocean.
Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying a morning swim, saying he wasn’t worried. “Because Taiwanese and Chinese, we are all one family. There are a lot of mainland residents here as well.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” he said sarcastically, saying the economy was not doing well.
Those who have to work in the ocean were more anxious. Fishermen are likely to be most affected by the exercises, which cover six different regions surrounding Taiwan, part of which enters the island’s territorial waters.
Most fishermen will continue to try to fish, as it is squid season.
“It’s very close. It will definitely affect us, but if they want to do it, what can we do? We can only avoid that area,” Zhou Tingtai, who owns a fishing vessel, said.
While the United States has not said it would intervene, it has forward-deployed bases and assets in the region, including aircraft carrier battle groups.
On Thursday, the US Navy said its aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, was operating in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan, as part of “scheduled normal operations.”
US law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as “extremely troubling” matters.
The exercises are scheduled to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island, in a repeat of the last major Chinese military exercises aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters that took place in 1995 and 1996.
While China has not given any information on the number of troops and military assets involved, the exercises appear to be the largest near Taiwan geographically.
Forces from the navy, air force, missile force, strategic support force and logistical support force participated in the exercises, Xinhua said.
Writer Huizhong Wu contributed to this report from Taipei, Taiwan.