Taiwan says China’s military drills appear to simulate an attack on the island | CBC News

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Taiwan said Saturday that China’s military drills appear to simulate an attack on the self-ruled island, after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s armed forces issued an alert, dispatched air and naval patrols around the island, and activated land-based missile systems in response to the Chinese exercises, the Ministry of National Defence said. As of 5 p.m. local time, 20 Chinese aircraft and 14 ships continued to carry out sea and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait, it said.

The ministry said that zones declared by China as no-go areas during the exercises for other ships and aircraft had “seriously damaged the peace.” It emphasized that Taiwan’s military does not seek war, but would prepare and respond for it accordingly.

China’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement Saturday that it had carried out military exercises as planned in the sea and airspaces to the north, southwest, and east of Taiwan, with a focus on “testing the capabilities” of its land strike and sea assault systems.

China launched live-fire military drills following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying that her visit violated the “one-China” policy. China sees the island as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if necessary, and considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognizing its sovereignty.

4 drones detected

Taiwan’s army also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of the offshore county of Kinmen on Friday night and fired warning flares in response.

The four drones, which Taiwan believed were Chinese, were spotted over waters around the Kinmen island group and the nearby Lieyu Island and Beiding islet, according to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defence Command.

Taiwan Air Force Mirage fighter jets taxi on a runway at an airbase in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Friday. (Johnson Lai/The Associated Press)

“Our government & military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises & information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary,” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet.

“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan & halt any escalation of the regional security situation,” she added.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands administered by Taiwan. The islands are located roughly 10 kilometres east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province.

Drills expected until Sunday

The Chinese military exercises began Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. So far, the drills have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters.

WATCH | China condemns G7 nations over statement on Taiwan

China condemns G7 nations over statement on Taiwan

China condemned all G7 nations, including Canada, after the Group of Seven expressed concern over Beijing’s live-fire exercises near Taiwan.

Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defence drills, while the U.S. has numerous naval assets in the area.

The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the U.S. remains committed to a “one-China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting.

China has also cut off defence talks with the U.S. and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.

Pelosi has been a longtime advocate of 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 at the square.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday that China’s latest actions on Taiwan show Beijing moving away from a practice of resolving issues peacefully, to coercion and toward a use of force.

At a news conference in Manila with his Philippines counterpart, Blinken also chided China for other retaliatory actions, including walking away from climate change talks. He said the United States would work to ensure communication channels remain open to prevent miscommunication.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at bringing down the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had doubled between Thursday to Friday, compared to similar attacks ahead of 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 Ministry of Interior, also faced similar attacks on their websites, according to the report.

A distributed-denial-of-service attack is aimed at overloading a website with requests for information that eventually crashes it, making it inaccessible to other users.

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