Taiwan says multiple Chinese aircraft and vessels spotted in possible simulated attack

The ministry said some planes and ships have crossed the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait that separates the island from mainland China.

“Our military has sent out alerts, deployed air patrols and naval vessels, and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation,” the ministry said.

The statement did not specify exactly how many Chinese aircraft and ships were detected.

The Chinese military has not yet issued a statement on the purpose of Saturday’s exercises.

The news follows a series of military exercises China has been holding around Taiwan since Thursday, following the controversial visit of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing democratic island earlier this week.
The Chinese Communist Party considers Taiwan its territory, despite never having controlled it, and has long vowed to “reunite” the island with mainland China — by force if necessary.

Pelosi ignored her furious opposition to her visit by landing in Taipei on Tuesday evening as part of a larger Asia tour that concluded with a final stop in Japan on Friday.

But the full ramifications of her visit are only now emerging as China ramps up military exercises in the air and waters around Taiwan and cuts off cooperation with the US on several issues.

According to the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, 68 Chinese warplanes were reported in the Taiwan Strait on Friday. Of those, 49 entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone – an airspace buffer commonly referred to as ADIZ. That was just a few planes short of last year’s record when 56 Chinese warplanes entered the ADIZ on the same day.

Nineteen of the warplanes also crossed the median line separating the Taiwan Strait on Friday, the ministry said.

On Thursday, China launched 11 ballistic missiles, some of which flew over the island of Taiwan and landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, prompting Tokyo to file a formal complaint with Beijing. That was the first time China sent missiles over the island.

Also on Thursday, two Chinese drones flew near Japan’s Okinawa prefecture, prompting the Japanese self-defense force to scramble fighter jets in response.

According to Chinese state media, the exercises will last until Sunday local time in Beijing.

Diplomatic consequences

The deteriorating situation in the Taiwan Strait has sparked a diplomatic storm, with China lashing out at countries that have criticized its exercises and some regional powers calling for de-escalation.

Tensions ran high during this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting of foreign ministers in Cambodia, where members had originally expected to discuss three main topics: the crisis in Myanmar, the South China Sea and the war in Ukraine.

But Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan added “a fourth hot stone…that has sparked heated discussions about relations between the straits,” Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said at a Saturday news conference in Phnom Penh.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both attended the ASEAN meeting; on Thursday, Wang condemned Pelosi’s visit as evidence of the “bankruptcy” of US politics and credibility, calling it “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational behavior.”

A day later, after Beijing fired its missiles over Taiwan, Blinken said China had chosen to “overreact and use Chairman Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait”.

On Saturday, Sokhonn described the meeting as lively and said he should call all ministers to speak in a calm, dignified, polite, civilized and diplomatic manner.

“There were strong arguments, but in our opinion it is much better that we exchange words than less friendly means,” he said.

Japan and other G7 economies have urged China to halt its military exercises and maintain the status quo in the region.

Beijing has not heeded those calls. Instead, it has responded by canceling future phone calls between Chinese and US defense leaders and annual naval meetings between the two countries. It has also canceled scheduled meetings between Chinese and Japanese officials.

China has also summoned ambassadors from the US, Japan and several European countries.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry announced a series of countermeasures against the US, including sanctions against Pelosi and her immediate family.

Military Exercises Drum Up China's Relentless Message in Taiwan Strait

China has also suspended bilateral climate talks and suspended cooperation on issues such as the repatriation of illegal immigrants and the investigation of cross-border crime and drug operations.

“We are not allowed to cooperate with hostages in matters of global importance because of differences between our two countries,” Blinken told reporters in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, on Saturday.

China’s decision to suspend climate talks “could have lasting consequences for the future of the region, the future of our planet,” and would punish developing countries rather than the US, he added.

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