Taiwan says China military drills appear to simulate attack

BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan said on Saturday that Chinese military exercises appear to simulate an attack on the self-governed island after multiple Chinese warships and planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Taipei that infuriated Beijing.

Taiwan’s armed forces have issued a warning, sent air and naval patrols around the island and activated land-based missile systems in response to China’s exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said. As of 5 p.m., 20 Chinese aircraft and 14 ships continued to conduct naval and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry said areas declared no-go areas by China during exercises for other ships and aircraft had “seriously damaged the peace”. It stressed that the Taiwanese military is not seeking war, but would prepare and respond accordingly.

China’s defense ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it had conducted military exercises as planned in the sea and airspace north, southwest and east of Taiwan, focusing on “testing the capabilities” of its land attack and naval attack systems. .

China launched military exercises with live fire following Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week and said it violated the “one China” policy. China considers the island a breakaway province to be forcibly annexed if necessary, and considers visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognition of its sovereignty.

The Taiwanese military also said it discovered four unmanned aerial vehicles flying near the Kinmen offshore district on Friday night and fired warning flames in response.

According to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command, the four drones, which Taiwan believed to be Chinese, were seen over the waters around the Kinmen archipelago and nearby Lieyu Island and the islet of Beiding.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is an archipelago located just 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province in the Taiwan Strait, separating the two sides that split during the Civil War in 1949. went.

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

“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop any escalation in the regional security situation,” she added.

Chinese military exercises started on Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. So far, the exercises have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island, following the last major Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 to intimidate Taiwan’s leaders and voters.

Taiwan has deployed its military and organized civilian defense exercises, while the US has deployed numerous naval assets in the area.

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

China also broke off defense and climate talks with the US and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.

Pelosi said Friday in Tokyo, the final stop of her Asia tour, that China will not be able to isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from traveling there.

Pelosi has long been a human rights advocate in China. She and other lawmakers visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy, two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at shutting down Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website had doubled between Thursday and Friday, compared to similar attacks prior to Pelosi’s visit, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The ministry has not specified the origin of the attack.

Other ministries and government agencies, such as the Interior Ministry, also faced similar attacks on their websites, according to the report.

A distributed denial-of-service attack aims to overload a website with requests for information, eventually crashing it, making it inaccessible to other users.

Also on Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that the deputy head of the Taiwan Defense Ministry’s research and development unit, Ou Yang Li-hsing, was found dead in his hotel room after suffering a heart attack. He was 57 and had overseen several missile production projects.

The report said his hotel room in the southern county of Pingtung, where he was on a business trip, showed no signs of burglary.

The Taiwanese are overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the status quo of the island’s de facto independence and reject China’s demand that the island unite with the mainland under Communist control.

Worldwide, most countries subscribe to the “one China” policy, which is a requirement for maintaining diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Any company that does not recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces quick responses, often with Chinese consumers promising to boycott its products.

On Friday, Mars Wrigley, the manufacturer of the Snickers candy bar, apologized after it released a video and material featuring South Korean boy band BTS that named Taiwan as a country, and was quickly criticized by Chinese users.

In a statement on its Weibo account, the company issued “deep apologies.”

“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts business activities in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations,” the statement said.

In a separate post, the company added that there is “only one China” and said that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”

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