After several Chinese warships and aircraft crossed the Taiwan Strait’s median line during U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, which incensed Beijing, Taiwan claimed on Saturday that China’s military exercises appear to simulate an attack on the autonomous island.
In reaction to the Chinese exercises, Taiwan’s armed forces sent out an alert, sent air and naval patrols around the island, and turned on land-based missile systems, according to the Ministry of National Defense. 20 Chinese planes and 14 ships were still conducting sea and air drills near the Taiwan Strait as of 5 p.m., the report added.
The zones China designated as no-fly zones during the exercises for foreign ships and planes, according to the ministry, had “seriously disturbed the peace.” It reiterated that while Taiwan’s military does not actively want conflict, it will be ready and able to act in such a situation.
In a statement released on Saturday, China’s Ministry of Defense claimed that military drills had been conducted as scheduled in the sea and airspaces to Taiwan’s north, south, and east, with an emphasis on “testing the capabilities” of its land strike and sea assault systems.
Following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week, China began conducting live-fire military drills, claiming that this was a violation of the “one-China” policy. Visits to Taiwan by foreign dignitaries are seen as recognition of Taiwan’s sovereignty by China, which views the island as a breakaway province that can be incorporated by force if required.
The Taiwanese army also claimed that on Friday night, it discovered four unmanned aerial vehicles flying close to the offshore county of Kinmen and responded by launching warning flares.
According to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command, the four drones—which Taiwan assumed to be Chinese—were seen flying over the waters around the Lieyu Island and Beiding islet as well as the Kinmen island group.
In the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two sides that separated amid civil war in 1949, the Kinmen group of islands, also known as Quemoy, is located just 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in the Fujian province.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen tweeted that “our administration and military are actively monitoring China’s military drills & information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary.”
“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan & halt any escalation of the regional security situation,” she added.
Chinese military drills started on Thursday and are scheduled to continue through Sunday. In an echo of the most recent significant Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 intended to intimidate Taiwan’s leaders and people, the drills have so far involved missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island.
Taiwan has activated its troops and held public defense drills, and the United States has stationed a large number of naval assets nearby.
The “one-China” policy, which acknowledges Beijing as the government of China but permits informal relations and defense links with Taipei, is still a priority for the United States, according to Pelosi and the Biden administration. Pelosi’s visit was discouraged but not prevented by the government.
As response for the visit, China also halted defense and climate negotiations with the United States and slapped sanctions on Pelosi.
Pelosi stated on Friday in Tokyo, her final stop on her Asia tour, that China cannot isolate Taiwan by forbidding American officials from visiting.
Longtime supporter of human rights in China, Pelosi. She went to Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1991, two years after a violent military crackdown on demonstrators there, to defend democracy alongside other legislators.
In contrast to similar efforts prior to Pelosi’s visit, cyberattacks aiming at taking down the website of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs more than doubled between Thursday and Friday, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The attack’s origin was not mentioned by the ministry.
According to the study, similar attacks were also made against the websites of other ministries and government organizations, including the Ministry of the Interior.
A distributed denial-of-service attack aims to overwhelm a website with information requests to the point where it fails and becomes unavailable to other users.
Also Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that the deputy head of the Taiwan Defense Ministry’s research and development unit, Ou Yang Li-hsing, was found dead in his hotel room after suffering a heart attack. He was 57, and had supervised several missile production projects.
The report said his hotel room in the southern county of Pingtung, where he was on a business trip, showed no signs of intrusion.
Taiwanese overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of the island’s de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island unify with the mainland under Communist control.
Globally, most countries subscribe to the “one-China” policy, which is a requirement to maintain diplomatic relations with Beijing.
Any company that fails to recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces swift backlash, often with Chinese consumers pledging to boycott its products.
On Friday, Mars Wrigley, the manufacturer of the Snickers candy bar, apologized after it released a video and materials featuring South Korean boy band BTS that had referred to Taiwan as a country, drawing swift criticism from Chinese users.
In a statement on its Weibo account, the company expressed “deep apologies.”
“Mars Wrigley respects China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and conducts business operations in strict compliance with local Chinese laws and regulations,” the statement said.
In a separate post, the firm added that there is “only one China” and said that “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory.”