China claims to have carried out precision missile strikes in the Taiwan Strait: NPR

Chinese soldiers wearing masks guard the entrance to the military museum in Beijing on August 1.

Ng Han Guan/AP

hide caption

toggle caption

Ng Han Guan/AP

Chinese soldiers wearing masks guard the entrance to the military museum in Beijing on August 1.

Ng Han Guan/AP

KEELUNG, Taiwan — China said it carried out “precision missile strikes” in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday as part of military drills that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades.

China earlier announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were underway in six areas surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to annex by force if necessary.

The drills were sparked by a visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week and are meant to announce China’s threat to attack the self-governing island republic. Along with its moves to diplomatically isolate Taiwan, China has long threatened military retaliation against steps the island has taken to cement its de facto independence with the backing of key allies including the United States.

“Live-fire, long-range precision missile strikes were carried out on selected targets in the eastern area of ​​the Taiwan Strait,” said the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army, the armed wing of the ruling Communist Party, in a statement on its social policy. media platform.

“The expected result has been achieved,” he added. No other details were given.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it tracked Chinese Dongfeng-series missile fire starting at 1:56 p.m. Thursday. It said in a statement that it used various early warning surveillance systems to track the missile launches, which were aimed at waters northeast and southwest of Taiwan.

The Defense Ministry also said it had tracked long-range rocket and ordnance fire in the outlying islands of Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.

Earlier in the day, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said its forces were on high alert and monitoring the situation, while seeking to avoid an escalation of tensions. Civil defense exercises took place last week and notices were placed on designated air raid shelters months ago.

China’s “irrational behavior” aims to alter the status quo and disrupt regional peace and stability, the ministry said.

“The three service branches will join hands with all the people to jointly safeguard national security and territorial integrity” while adapting to the situation as it develops, the statement said.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that the drills were joint operations focusing on “blockading, assaulting sea targets, striking ground targets and controlling airspace”.

Ma Chen-kun, a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University, said the drills were intended to show the Chinese military’s ability to deploy precision weapons to cut Taiwan’s ties with the outside world and facilitate the landing of the troops.

The announced drills are “more comprehensive, and if the People’s Liberation Army actually invades Taiwan in an all-out invasion, what concrete actions it will take is all in that particular drill,” Ma said.

“The main thing is that they cut Taiwan’s ties with the outside world, from their sea, they would remove the firepower of the coastal defense,” he said.

Meanwhile, the mood in Taiwan was calm.

In Keelung, a city on the northern coast of Taiwan and close to two of the announced exercise areas, swimmers did their morning laps in a natural pool built into the ocean.

Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim, saying he was not worried. “Because Taiwanese and Chinese, we are all one family. There are also a lot of mainlanders here,” he said.

“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” he joked, saying the economy wasn’t doing so well.

Those who have to work on the ocean are more concerned. Fishermen are likely to be the most affected by the drilling, which covers six different areas around Taiwan, part of which falls within the island’s territorial waters.

Most anglers will keep trying to fish, as it is squid season.

“It’s very close. It will definitely impact us, but if they want to do that, what can we do? We can just avoid that area,” said Chou Ting-tai, owner of a boat from sin.

Although the United States has not said it will intervene, it has bases and forward deployed assets in the region, including aircraft carrier battle groups.

On Thursday, the US Navy said its aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea, east of Taiwan, under “normal scheduled operations”.

US law requires the government to treat threats against Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “grave concern”.

The exercises are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996.

Although China has given no word on the number of troops and military assets involved, the exercises appear to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms.

The drills involved troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistics support force, Xinhua reported.

Comments are closed.