Chinese military carries out precision strikes in Taiwan Strait

·3-min read
Chinese military carries out precision strikes in Taiwan Strait

China has kicked off its biggest military exercises in 25 years in the seas around Taiwan following US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

China's Eastern Military Command said on Thursday it had carried out long-range firing in precision strikes at specific areas in the eastern part of the Taiwan Strait as part of planned exercises.

The drills, spread out across six locations, are due to end at 12pm (4am GMT) on Sunday.

Ms Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, the first by an incumbent House speaker in 25 years, has infuriated China, which views the island nation as a breakaway province to be annexed by force if necessary. China views visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognising its sovereignty.

“Today the world faces a choice between democracy and autocracy,” Ms Pelosi said in a short speech during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday. “America’s determination to preserve democracy, here in Taiwan and around the world, remains ironclad.”

The Biden administration and Ms Pelosi have said the United States remains committed to the so-called one-China policy, which recognises Beijing but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Ms Pelosi from visiting.

The exercises are the biggest aimed at Taiwan since 1995, when China fired missiles in a large-scale exercise to show its displeasure over a visit by then-Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui to the US.

China also already flew fighter jets and other war planes toward Taiwan, and blocked imports of citrus and fish from Taiwan.

Mrs Tsai pushed back firmly against Beijing’s military exercises.

“Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down,” Mrs Tsai said at her meeting with Pelosi. “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defense for democracy.”

Nancy Pelosi, left, poses with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo (AP)
Nancy Pelosi, left, poses with South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo (AP)

On Thursday, Ms Pelosi met South Korean National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin Pyo and other senior members of Parliament for talks on regional security, economic cooperation and climate issues. Before their talks, the pair bumped elbows and posed for a photo in front of South Korean and US national flags.

Later in the day, Ms Pelosi planned to visit an inter-Korean border area that is jointly controlled by the American-led UN Command and North Korea, a South Korean official said requesting anonymity because he wasn’t authorised to speak to media on the matter.

If that visit occurs, Ms Pelosi would be the highest-level American to go to the Joint Security Area since then-President Donald Trump went there in 2019 for a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Any statement critical of North Korea by Ms Pelosi is certain to draw a furious response from Pyongyang.

On Wednesday, the North’s Foreign Ministry slammed the United States over her Taiwan trip, saying that “the current situation clearly shows that the impudent interference of the US in internal affairs of other countries.”

In Washington, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby sought to dampen down fears. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday that US officials "don't believe we're at the brink now, and there's certainly no reason for anybody to be talking about being at the brink going forward."

Addressing Beijing's threats, MsPelosi said she hopes it's clear that while China has prevented Taiwan from attending certain international meetings, "that they understand they will not stand in the way of people coming to Taiwan as a show of friendship and of support."