Military drills in six regions surrounding the self-governing island are depicted by state media as war plan rehearsals. Chinese military helicopters fly over Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, before to the start of Thursday’s significant military drills. [AFP] Hector Retamal
After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taipei after a brief visit that enraged Beijing, China started extensive military sea and air drills near the independent island of Taiwan.
The live-fire drills, according to state media, began at noon local time (04:00 GMT) in six locations around Taiwan and will go until the same time on August 7.
Following Pelosi’s arrival on Tuesday night, China started military exercises. Later, China announced a slew of economic sanctions in retaliation for Pelosi’s visit.
On Wednesday, military exercises went on as Taiwan claimed they were illegal, invaded its territory, and amounted to a blockade of its air and sea.
China’s military actions have been characterized as "irrational" and having the "intention of upsetting the status quo and jeopardizing regional peace and stability" by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday.
Beijing claims Taiwan as its own and hasn’t ruled out occupying the island militarily.
Despite having formal diplomatic ties with China, the United States maintains a policy of "strategic ambiguity" toward Taiwan and is required by law to give the island the means to defend itself.
“In the event of a future military conflict, it is likely that the operational plans currently being rehearsed will be directly translated into combat operations,” it quoted Chinese mainland military expert Song Zhongping as saying.
It reported the military planned to launch live long-range artillery across the Taiwan Strait.
“If the conventional missiles of the PLA were to be launched from the mainland toward the west of Taiwan and hit targets to its east, this means that the missiles would fly over the island, which is unprecedented the paper quoted another Chinese mainland military expert Zhang Xuefeng as saying.