Taiwan Defense Ministry announced in a statement released by the CNA English news agency that at 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT) “several” Chinese planes and ships were sighted in waters near Taiwan, some of them “crossing the midline.”
This division functions as an unofficial but tacitly respected border between China and Taiwan, which are experiencing one of their most tense moments following Wednesday’s visit to the island by U.S. Legislative Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Beijing warned it would respond forcefully.
The Chinese Army’s moves are part of the military maneuvers that the PLA conducts from yesterday until next Sunday around Taiwan due to the U.S. official’s trip, which has so far included live fire and long-range missile launches.
Taiwan’s defense ministry denounced yesterday Thursday that 22 Chinese military aircraft crossed the median line on that day, but it has not detailed how many ships, and planes did so today.
In response to the “highly provocative” Chinese maneuvers, the Taiwanese Army assured that it would increase its capacity and readiness to safeguard the island’s sovereignty “without escalating tensions or provoking conflicts that could lead to war.”
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Yesterday’s exercises, which involved the closure of air and sea space in six areas around the island, included long-range artillery target practice with “multiple types of conventional missiles” and the aerial deployment of dozens of military aircraft, including fighters and bombers.
This is the first time such launches have been recorded in the vicinity of Taiwan since the third cross-strait crisis between 1995 and 1997.
Analysts quoted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper suggested that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, Chinese Army) could use long-range cruise missile bombers such as the CJ-20 today.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen recently described the Chinese maneuvers as an “irresponsible act” that fuels tensions in the Indo-Pacific, called for restraint from Beijing, and asked for the international community’s support.
She also said Taiwan will not contribute to the escalation of tensions but will defend its sovereignty.
China, which called Pelosi’s visit a “farce” and a “deplorable betrayal,” claims sovereignty over the island and considers Taiwan a rebel province since the Kuomintang Nationalists retreated there in 1949 after losing the civil war against the Communists.