Pelosi effect: China launches live-ammo military exercises around Taiwan
- Taiwan says China firing ballistic missiles, according to media reports
- Chinese military carried out precision strikes on specific areas in eastern part of Taiwan Strait in exercises
- Taiwan's defence ministry said on Thursday its military will continue to reinforce its alertness level and will react appropriately to the “enemy situation”
Beijing has launched major military exercises encircling the island in a show of force after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan.
The exercises, which began around 9.30am IST 12 pm (0400 GMT), involve "live-firing", according to state media.
"Six major areas around the island have been selected for this actual combat exercise and during this period, relevant ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant waters and airspaces," state broadcaster CCTV reported.
The exercises will take place in multiple zones around Taiwan -- at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the shore -- and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
The show of force around vital international shipping lanes — disrupting 18 international routes, according to Taiwan — comes after a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi, the highest-ranking politician to visit the self-ruled island in 25 years, had defied Beijing's threats of repercussions to the trip.
What we know about the drills
According to Chinese state media, the exercises will involve "training activities including live-fire drills. The drills will reportedly take place as close as just 20 kilometers (12 miles) to Taiwan's shore at some points.
State-run tabloid the Global Times reported, citing military analysts, that the drills were "unprecedented," with missiles expected to fly over Taiwan.
On Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying claimed the maneuvers were "defensive."
"In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi's Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim," she told a regular briefing Wednesday.
Taipei on alert
Taiwan has warned that the planned drills pose a threat to regional security.
"This is an irrational move to challenge the international order," Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang told a news conference Wednesday.
The island's Maritime and Port Bureau issued warning to ships to avoid areas of the military exercises.
Taiwan also reported on Wednesday that 27 Chinese military jets entered its air defense zone.
Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said it fired flares to drive away unidentified aircraft, likely drones, that had flown above Taiwan.
Western and regional condemnation
The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned Beijing's "aggressive" drills around Taiwan.
"There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally," Borrell wrote on Twitter.
His remarks echoed that of the G7, which said Beijing's "escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region."
Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also warned that the standoff could spark "open conflicts."
The situation "could destabilize the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers," the ASEAN ministers said in a statement.
With inputs from Deutsche Welle, Reuters