China’s military simulated precision strikes against Taiwan during a second day of drills around the island on Sunday, with the island’s defense ministry reporting several air force sorties and monitoring Chinese missile forces.
China, which claims to democratically govern 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 patrols and combat readiness exercises around Taiwan were continuing.
“Under the unified command of the Joint Theater Operations Command Center, several types of units have carried out simulated joint precision strikes on key targets on the island of Taiwan and surrounding sea areas, and continue to maintain a posture offensive around the island,” he said.
“Foreign Military Targets”
A source close to the security situation in the region told Reuters that China had carried out mock air and sea attacks against “foreign military targets” in the waters off Taiwan’s southwest coast.
“Taiwan is not their only target,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media. “It’s very provocative.”
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said as of 4 a.m. ET Sunday, they spotted 70 Chinese aircraft, including Su-30 fighters and H-6 bombers, as well as 11 ships, around Taiwan.
The ministry said it pays particular attention to the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force, which is in charge of China’s land-based missile system.
“As for the movements of the Chinese Communist Rocket Force, the national army also has a tight grip through the joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance system, and the air defense forces remain on high alert. “, said the ministry.
He reiterated that Taiwanese forces “will not escalate conflicts or cause disputes” and will respond “appropriately” to China’s drills.
Military vessels in a reported stalemate
The security source said about 20 military vessels, half from Taiwan and half from China, were stuck in a standoff near the center line of the Taiwan Strait, which for years served as an unofficial barrier between both parties, but did not act provocatively.
The Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, which Taiwan has been monitoring since last week, is now more than 400 nautical miles off Taiwan’s southeast coast and conducting drills, the source said.
Zhao Xiaozhuo of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences told the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper that this was the first time China had spoken openly about mock attacks on targets in Taiwan.
Primary targets would include infrastructure such as runways, military logistics facilities and moving targets “to wipe them out in one fell swoop if necessary”, the report quoted Zhao as saying.
US monitors drills
While in Los Angeles last week, in what was officially considered a transit back from Central America, Tsai met with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, despite the warnings from Beijing against him.
The de facto U.S. Embassy in Taiwan said on Sunday that the United States was closely monitoring China’s exercises around Taiwan and was “comfortable and confident” that it had the resources and sufficient capacity at the regional level to ensure peace and stability.
American communication channels with China remain open and the United States has always called for restraint and not to change the status quo, said a spokesperson for the American Institute in Taiwan, which serves as an embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.
Washington severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing in 1979 but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control, says that Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in its relations with the United States, and that the subject is a frequent source of tension.
Beijing views Tsai as a separatist and has rebuffed her repeated calls for talks. Tsai says only Taiwanese can decide their future.
Chinese jets, warships
Over the past three years, China has stepped up its military pressure against Taiwan, carrying out regular missions around Taiwan, but not in its territorial airspace or over the island itself.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said earlier on Sunday that in the past 24 hours it had spotted 71 Chinese air force planes and nine navy ships around Taiwan.
The ministry released a map showing that about half of those planes, including Su-30s and J-11s, crossed the center line of the strait.
Chinese state media said the plane was armed with live weapons. Taiwanese air force jets also usually carry live weapons when rushing to fend off Chinese incursions.
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