Taiwan says Chinese military exercises appear to simulate an attack

BEIJING (AP) – Taiwan reported Saturday that a Chinese military exercise appears to simulate an attack on a self-governing island after many Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s centerline following US House President Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei this enraged Beijing.

Taiwan’s armed forces sounded the alarm, deployed air and sea patrols around the island, and launched land-based missile systems in response to Chinese exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said. At 5 p.m., 20 Chinese planes and 14 ships continued their sea and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait.

The ministry said zones declared by China as closed areas during exercises for other ships and aircraft “seriously damaged peace.” He stressed that the Taiwanese military is not looking for war, but will prepare and respond accordingly.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Saturday that it had conducted scheduled military exercises in the sea and airspace in the north, south-west and east of Taiwan, focusing on “capability testing” of land and naval attack systems.

China began military exercises with live fire after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying she violated a “one China” policy. China sees the island as a detached province that needs to be annexed by force if necessary, and considers visits by foreign officials to Taiwan as a recognition of its sovereignty.

The Taiwan Army also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying near coastal Kinmen County on Friday evening and fired warning flares in response.

According to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command, four drones that Taiwan considered Chinese were spotted over the waters around the Kinmen island group and nearby Lieyu Island and the Beiding Islet.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province in the Taiwan Strait that split two sides that split during the 1949 Civil War.

“Our government and military closely monitor China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond when needed,” Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet.

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

Chinese military exercises began on Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. So far, the exercise has included missile attacks on targets in the seas north and south of the island, echoing China’s last major military exercises in 1995 and 1996 to intimidate Taiwan’s leaders and voters.

Taiwan has put its army on alert and organized civil defense exercises, while the United States has deployed numerous naval resources in the area.

Biden administration Pelosi said the United States remains committed to a “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government but allows informal relations and defense ties to Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting.

In retaliation for the visit, China also stopped talks with the US on defense and climate and imposed sanctions on Pelosi.

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

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

Meanwhile, cyber attacks to shut down the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs website have doubled from Thursday to Friday compared to similar attacks prior to Pelosi’s visit, according to Taiwan’s Central Information Agency. The ministry did not specify the origin of the attack.

According to the report, other ministries and government agencies such as the Home Office have also faced similar attacks on their websites.

A distributed denial of service attack is designed to overload a website with requests for information that eventually crash it, rendering it inaccessible to other users.

Also on Saturday, the Central Information Agency reported that the deputy head of the Taiwan Ministry of Defense R&D unit, Ou Yang Li-hsing, was found dead in his hotel room following a heart attack. He was 57 years old and oversaw several rocket production projects.

The report said his hotel room in southern Pingtung County, 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 rejecting China’s demands to reunite the island with the mainland under communist control.

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

Any company that does not recognize Taiwan as part of China is often met with a quick response, often with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott its products.

On Friday, Snickers candy bar maker Mars Wrigley apologized after he posted videos and footage of South Korean boy band BTS, which described Taiwan as a country, sparking rapid criticism from Chinese users.

In a statement on its Weibo account, the company expressed a “deep apology”.

“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts business 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 Chinese territory.”

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