Five Chinese missiles fell during Beijing’s maneuvers off Taiwan in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to Japanese sources. “This is a serious matter affecting our country’s national security and people’s security,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on Thursday. Japan protested to the Chinese side. It is the first time a Chinese People’s Liberation Army missile has landed in Japanese EEZ waters.
Japan had previously pointed out during US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Wednesday that China’s maneuvers are taking place in an area that overlaps with Japan’s economic zone. Pelosi plans to hold talks with the government in Tokyo on Friday. Japan is a key Washington ally. The USA is also Japan’s protecting power.
In the conflict over Taiwan, China launched the largest military show of force in decades on Thursday. The maneuvers in six areas around the democratic island republic are aimed at an air and sea blockade.
You could also be a model for violent conquest. According to Chinese information, rockets for “precision strikes” were also fired.
Taiwan activates defense systems
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense accuses Beijing of launching “several ballistic missiles into Taiwan’s northeastern and southwestern waters since 1:56 p.m. (local time, 7:56 a.m. CEST)”, the ministry announced on Twitter.
“We condemn such irrational actions that endanger regional peace.” A reporter from Taiwanese TV station TVBS-News reports that the ministry has “launched defense systems.”
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Images on Chinese social media are said to show artillery and missile launches towards the Taiwan Straits. The AFP news agency distributed videos of Chinese military helicopters flying near the Chinese island of Pingtan. The island is only about 130 kilometers away from Taiwan.
China had started its announced military maneuvers near Taiwan at night (local time), according to Chinese state television. “The exercises are beginning,” the broadcaster CCTV said Thursday on the online network Weibo.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it was closely monitoring the situation. The island nation’s armed forces would act on the principle of “preparing for war without wanting war”. No “escalation of the conflict” is sought either.
According to the Defense Ministry, Taiwan had previously used flares to drive off unidentified Chinese missiles over the Kinmen Islands. Two Chinese aircraft, likely drones, entered the area twice on Wednesday night, around 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., Maj. Gen. Chang Zone-sung of the Kinmen Defense Command told Reuters on Thursday.
“We immediately set off flares to warn and drive them away. After that they turned back. They came into our security zone, so we expelled them.” He assumes that the drones were used to gather information about Taiwan’s security measures. The heavily fortified Kinmen Islands are politically part of Taiwan, but lie just off China’s southeastern coast near the city of Xiamen.
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According to state media, the ongoing Chinese maneuvers around Taiwan are aimed at a naval and air blockade of the democratic island republic. A possible military conquest of Taiwan is also being practiced with it. The Taiwanese port authority announced on Thursday afternoon (local time) that the Chinese air force is expanding the maneuvering area, tweeted East Asia correspondent for Deutsche Welle, William Yang.
In addition, the exercise will be “extended until 10 a.m. next Monday morning”. The maneuvers, which will include missile tests and target practice, were ordered by the People’s Liberation Army in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
The visit of the US top politician, who continued her Asia trip to South Korea on Thursday, had fueled tensions around Taiwan. It was the highest-ranking visit from the United States in a quarter of a century. Beijing reacted with outrage because it claims the island for itself.
The communist leadership sees Taiwan only as part of the People’s Republic. Beijing strictly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei and had vehemently warned against the visit. Taiwan, on the other hand, has long considered itself independent.
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Baerbock calls for de-escalation
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) called for de-escalation during her visit to Canada. Visits such as Pelosi’s to Taiwan “must not be used as an excuse for military threatening gestures.” A change in the status quo in Taiwan “can only take place peacefully and with the mutual consent of all parties involved.”
China’s artillery also plans to hold long-range target practice in the Taiwan Strait strait that separates the mainland from Taiwan. Also, the center line drawn by Taiwan in the sea route is crossed, “which ceases to exist,” according to state media. Eastern Command Vice Chief of Staff Gu Zhong said there should be practice blockade of the island, sea attacks, landings and airspace control.
Maneuvers larger than in the “missile crisis” in 1995
The maneuvers are larger than in the “missile crisis” of 1995 and 1996, when China also sent missiles north and south across Taiwan’s territorial waters to intimidate, Chinese military experts said. Even then, Beijing wanted to scare off the pro-independence forces in Taiwan by heating up tensions. At that time, the United States had sent two aircraft carriers.
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According to Chinese information, the early announcement on Tuesday evening – immediately after Pelosi’s arrival in Taiwan – should give civilian ships and airlines enough time to leave the maneuvering areas or change flight routes. The maneuvers, which started on Tuesday evening, should be fully resumed this Thursday.
A dispute could draw the USA militarily into the conflict. In the current situation, experts warned of dangerous incidents caused by miscalculations by the armed forces on both sides. The United States has committed itself to Taiwan’s defense capability, which has so far mostly meant the delivery of weapons. However, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said the US has an obligation to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.
At her meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen the day before, US leader Pelosi also pledged US support. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to defending democracy in the world and in Taiwan.” The visit of her congressional delegation shows “that we will not give up our commitments to Taiwan.” (Tsp, dpa, Reuters, AFP)