Taiwan’s military on Tuesday said it had begun holding live-fire exercises, even as China’s war games near Taiwan continued for a sixth straight day.
China last Thursday began unprecedented live-firing military exercises in six regions surrounding Taiwan, with the drills starting the day after the visit of United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.
The PLA Eastern Theater Command on Monday said it continued the drills which were initially announced as ending on Sunday, a move analysts said was aimed at establishing a new normal in China’s military presence in the Taiwan Strait. The Theater Command said in a statement Tuesday’s drills focused on “joint blockade and joint support operations”.
Chinese aircraft have continued to cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait, with Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) noting it had tracked 45 aircraft and 10 warships on Tuesday, of which 16 aircraft had crossed the median.
Taiwan announced it had begun its own live-fire artillery drills and would hold them again on Thursday. Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for the Eighth Army Corps, told reporters the aim was to “practice repulsing an amphibious landing by enemy forces”. The drills were not taking place in any of the areas previously announced by the Chinese military for its exercises, he said.
Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu called China’s military exercises, which for the first time saw the firing of conventional missiles over Taiwan and the crossing of the median line by a large number of aircraft and warships, as “a gross violation of Taiwan’s rights under international law” that “hindered the normal operations of one of the busiest air and shipping routes in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“This has had a serious impact on international transportation and trade, and undermined regional peace and security. Taiwan thus strongly condemns China’s extremely irresponsible behaviour,” he told reporters.
The drills, which Taiwan said had “simulated an attack” on the island, were “a serious provocation” with China “using Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a pretext,” Mr. Wu added.
“China has openly declared its ownership over the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “It aims to influence the international community’s freedom of navigation in the waters and airspace of the Taiwan Strait by denying the status quo that it is an international waterway. And after the drills conclude, China may try to routinise its action in an attempt to wreck the long-term status quo across the Taiwan Strait.”
Responding to his remarks, China’s Foreign Ministry said the “countermeasures taken by China in response to Pelosi’s provocative visit to Taiwan are justified, reasonable and lawful.” “They are aimed at sending a warning to the provocateurs and punishing the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin said.