China started live-fire military exercises Thursday in six areas around Taiwan. The action came one day after a visit by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.
China’s state news agency Xinhua said the exercises involved all parts of the military. It said the “training sessions” included: “blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control operation.”
China's military said the firing was completed around 7:30 UTC on Thursday, adding that “All missiles hit the target accurately.” China has also warned aircraft and ships to avoid the areas during the exercises, which run through Sunday.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it followed the firing of Chinese Dongfeng missiles and counted 11 landed in the waters in the north, east and south of Taiwan. The ministry also noted the firing of rockets around the islands of Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said five of the missiles fired by China landed in the waters of Hateruma, an island south of the main islands of Japan.
Ma Chen-kun is a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University. Ma said the exercises were “more complete” than earlier ones directed at the island. “If the People’s Liberation Army actually invades Taiwan in an all-out invasion, the concrete actions it will take, it’s all in this particular exercise,” Ma said.
During the exercises, people in Taiwan remained calm.
Chen Ming-cheng, a 38-year-old businessman, noted that China has said it would take Taiwan by force for some time. Chen told Reuters, "From my personal understanding, they are trying to deflect public anger, the anger of their own people, and turn it onto Taiwan."
Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim. He told the Associated Press that he is not worried. “Everyone should want money, not bullets,” adding that the economy was not doing so well.
Why is China taking these actions?
China has long declared that self-governing Taiwan is a part of its territory. And its 2005 anti-secession law says the island could be brought under control by force if necessary.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi's visit to Taiwan an "irresponsible and highly irrational" act, state broadcaster CCTV reported. And China’s Defense Ministry said it would conduct targeted military operations to “safeguard national sovereignty.”
Pelosi’s visit also came at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is seeking a third five-year term as leader of the ruling Communist Party. And Xi has said the issue of Taiwan cannot remain unsettled indefinitely.
It remains unclear whether China will seek to keep tensions high at the end of the exercises. Chinese spokespeople from foreign and defense Ministries have said Taiwan will pay a price over Pelosi’s visit but have not given details.
The United States has observed what is called a “one-China policy” for many years. Under the policy, the U.S. recognizes the Chinese government in Beijing. But the U.S. keeps informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan.
The U.S. has not said it would intervene in the exercises, but it has an aircraft carrier battle group nearby. On Thursday, the U.S. Navy said the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was operating in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan, as part of “normal scheduled operations.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday, “I hope very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity. We countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Hai Do adapted this report for VOA Learning English based on reporting from The Associated Press and Reuters.
Words in This Story
assault –n. a military attack
deflect –v. to cause something to change direction
sovereignty –n. a country’s independent power and the right to govern itself
scheduled –adj. planned for a certain time
pretext –n. a reason given to hide the real reason for doing something
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