China has fired multiple missiles towards Taiwan in its largest military drills in the Taiwan Strait in decades after US Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan as part of her Asia tour.
The trip made Pelosi the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in more than 20 years, a move which has drawn protests from China, which claims Taiwan as its territory.
Four missiles likely flew over Taiwan for the first time on Thursday Aug. 4, a day after Pelosi left, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry, Bloomberg reported.
A map of the missiles’ trajectories showed that at least one of the weapons was believed to have flown over Taipei before landing in Japan’s EEZ — a move that would be seen as a major escalation by Beijing. pic.twitter.com/YpUHh2zGA4— Jesse Johnson (@jljzen) August 4, 2022
The ministry said that four of the ballistic missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone and strongly condemned the move, according to Bloomberg.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that several Chinese warships and military planes had crossed the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait separating the two countries on Friday morning.
Beijing announced the military drills – which are expected to run until Sunday – in six zones around Taiwan after Pelosi landed on the island on the evening of Tuesday Aug. 2.
Beijing’s military said it had activated more than 100 planes, including fighter jets and bombers, and over 10 warships, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
“The U.S.-Taiwan collusion and provocation will only push Taiwan towards the abyss of disaster, bringing catastrophe to Taiwan compatriots,” a Chinese defense ministry spokesperson said, Reuters reported.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had fired flares and scrambled jets to drive away four drones and 22 Chinese fighter aircraft that had entered into Taiwan’s air defense zone, according to Reuters.
It said that it is continuing to monitor the situation and remains on high alert, CNN reported.
“Taiwan will never be knocked down by challenges,” Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen said in a video message to the people of Taiwan following the launch of the drills.
“This deliberate and continuous increase in military threats, missile launching on the world’s busiest shipping lanes, is not only against Taiwan, but also against the international community,” she said.
“We strictly demand that China needs to be rational and self-restrained,” Tsai said. “I want to stress that we will not escalate conflict or provoke disputes, but we will firmly defend sovereignty and national security, and stand by the line of democracy and freedom.”
“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” the White House said, condemning the move as “irresponsible.”