- Chinese military simulates attacks on Taiwan
- Taiwan is monitoring the movements of China’s missile force
- The US has said it is closely monitoring China’s exercises
- China began a three-day exercise near Taiwan on Saturday
- China angered by Taiwan president’s visit to US
TAIPEI, April 9 (Reuters) – China’s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan in a second day of exercises around the island on Sunday, with the island’s defense ministry reporting several air forces and it is monitoring China’s missile forces.
China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, began three days of military exercises around the island on Saturday, the day after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a brief visit to the United States.
Chinese state television reported that combat readiness patrols and drills were continuing around Taiwan.
“Under the unified command of the Theater Joint Operations Command Center, multiple types of units conducted simulated joint precision strikes on key targets in and around Taiwan Island and continued to maintain an offensive posture around the island,” it said.
China is carrying out simulated air and sea attacks on “foreign military targets” in waters off Taiwan’s southwest coast, a source familiar with the security situation in the region told Reuters.
“Taiwan is not their only target,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “It’s very exciting.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said as of Sunday afternoon (0400 GMT), they had spotted 58 Chinese aircraft, including Su-30 fighter jets and H-6 bombers, and nine ships around Taiwan.
The ministry said they were paying particular attention to the People’s Liberation Army’s rocket force, which is responsible for China’s land-based missile system.
“The country’s military is also keeping close tabs on the movements of the Chinese Communists’ rocket force through the joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system, and the air defense forces are on high alert,” the ministry said.
It reiterated that Taiwan’s forces would not “escalate conflicts or cause disputes” and would respond “appropriately” to China’s exercises.
About 20 warships, half from Taiwan and half from China, are stationed near the median line in the Taiwan Strait, which for years has served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides but has not acted provocatively. .
China’s aircraft carrier Shandong, which Taiwan has been monitoring since last week, is currently 400 nautical miles off Taiwan’s southeast coast and conducting exercises.
Zhao Xiaozuo of China’s Academy of Military Sciences told the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper that this was the first time China had spoken openly about simulated attacks on targets in Taiwan.
Key targets include infrastructure such as runways, military logistics facilities and mobile targets, “to destroy them in a single blow if necessary,” the report quoted Zhao as saying.
‘Comfortable, confident’ US monitors drills
Normal life continued in Taiwan, with no panic or disruption from Chinese exercises.
Last August, following a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, China conducted military exercises around Taiwan, including firing missiles into waters near the island. This method does not announce such exercises.
While in Los Angeles last week, Tsai met Kevin McCarthy, the current Speaker of the House, on his way back from Central America to officially impose a transit fee, despite Beijing’s warnings against it.
The de facto US embassy in Taiwan said on Sunday that the US is closely monitoring China’s exercises around Taiwan and is “comfortable and confident” it has sufficient resources and capabilities regionally to ensure peace and stability.
U.S. communication channels with China remain open, with the U.S. continuing to urge restraint and no change to the status quo, said a spokesman for the American Institute in Taiwan, which acts as an embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
Washington severed diplomatic ties with Taipei in 1979 in favor of Beijing, but is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China, which has never shied away from using force to bring the island under its control, says Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the United States, and the topic often causes tensions.
Beijing views Tsai as a separatist and has rejected his repeated calls for talks. Tsai says only the people of Taiwan can decide their future.
Chinese fighters, warships
China has stepped up military pressure against Taiwan over the past three years, flying routine missions around Taiwan, though not in its territorial airspace or on the island.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it had spotted 71 Chinese air force aircraft and nine naval vessels around Taiwan in the past 24 hours.
The ministry released a map showing about half of those aircraft, including Su-30 and J-11 aircraft, crossed the strait.
Chinese state media reported that the plane was carrying live weapons. Taiwanese Air Force jets also typically carry live weapons as they struggle to spot Chinese intrusions.
Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Written by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Leslie Adler, William Mallard and Jerry Doyle
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