China military exercises appear to simulate attack, Taiwan says

Taiwan said China’s military exercises appeared to simulate an attack on an autonomous island after multiple Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s centerline.

According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, the Taiwanese military has raised the alarm, dispatched air and sea patrols around the island, and activated land-based missile systems as the situation warrants.

The ministry said areas declared as off-limits by China during exercises with other ships and aircraft “seriously undermined peace.” Although the Taiwanese military does not seek war, it stressed that it 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 to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan, with a focus on “testing the capabilities” of land strikes. and maritime attack systems.

China launched live-fire military exercises after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this week, saying her visit violated its “one China” policy.

China views the island as a separate province to be annexed by force if necessary, and views any visit to Taiwan by a foreign official as an acknowledgment of its sovereignty.

Taiwan’s military also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying near an offshore county in Kinmen county on Friday night, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.

According to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command, four drones that Taiwan believed to be Chinese were spotted in the waters around the Kinmen island group and the nearby Lieru and Beiding islands.

The Taiwanese military responded by firing warning flares.

“The government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations and stand ready to respond if necessary,” Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Twitter.

“I call on the international community to support Taiwan’s democratization and stop the deterioration of the security situation in the region,” she added.

Kinmen, also known as Kemoi, is a group of islands administered by Taiwan.

A boat moves through the water at a 68 nautical mile scenic spot closest to Taiwan Island in mainland China. (Ng Han Guan/AP)

These islands are located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province.

China’s military exercises are expected to begin Thursday and continue through Sunday.

So far, the drills have included missile strikes on targets in the waters north and south of the island, and the last major strikes in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters. It reflects China’s extensive military training.

Taiwan remains on high alert and conducts civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the region.

The Biden administration and Pelosi said the United States remains committed to the “One China” policy. This recognizes Beijing as the government of China, but unofficial and defense ties with Taipei.

The administration was disappointed, but did not prevent Mr. Pelosi’s visit.

China has also cut off defense talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.

Pelosi has long championed human rights in China.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addresses a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday (Taiwan President’s Office via AP)

Along with other members of parliament, she visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at taking down Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website doubled between Thursday and Friday compared to similar attacks before Pelosi’s visit, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. .

The ministry did not specify the source of the attack.

Other ministries and government agencies, such as the Ministry of Home Affairs, 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 the website and rendering it inaccessible to other users.

Also on Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that Ou Yang Li-hsing, deputy director of Taiwan’s defense ministry’s research and development department, was found dead in his hotel room after suffering a heart attack. .

He was 57 years old and oversaw several missile production projects.

According to reports, there were no signs of break-ins in the hotel room he was traveling to in southern Pingtung County.

Taiwan Air Force Mirage fighter jets at Hsinchu Air Force Base, Taiwan (Johnson Lai/AP)

An overwhelming majority of Taiwanese support maintaining the island’s status quo of de facto independence, rejecting China’s demands that the island reunite with the communist-controlled mainland.

Globally, most countries have agreed to the “One China” policy. This is a requirement to maintain diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Companies that do not recognize Taiwan as part of China often face quick backlash, with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott their products.

On Friday, Mars Wrigley, maker of Snickers chocolate bars, issued an apology after releasing videos and materials featuring South Korean boy band BTS, which called Taiwan a country, drawing swift criticism from Chinese users. rice field.

In a statement on its Weibo account, the company said it “deeply apologizes.”

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

In a separate post, the company added that “there is only one China,” and that “Taiwan is an inseparable part of China’s territory.” China military exercises appear to simulate attack, Taiwan says

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