Taiwan says China’s military exercises appear to simulate attack

BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan said Saturday that China’s military exercises appear to simulate an attack on the self-governing island, after several Chinese warships and planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait following the president’s visit to Taipei. of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, which infuriated Beijing.

Taiwan’s military has issued an alert, dispatched air and naval patrols around the island and activated land-based missile systems in response to the Chinese exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said. As of 5 p.m., 20 Chinese planes and 14 ships were continuing to conduct sea and air drills around the Taiwan Strait, it said.

The ministry said the areas declared by China as no-go areas during exercises for other ships and planes had “seriously damaged the peace.” He stressed that Taiwan’s military does not seek war, but would prepare and respond accordingly.

China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it had carried out military exercises as planned in the sea and airspaces to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan, with a focus on “testing the capabilities” of its attack. land and sea attack. systems

China launched live-fire military exercises following Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying it violated the “one China” policy. China sees the island as a breakaway province to be forcibly annexed if necessary, and views visits to Taiwan by foreign officials as recognition of its sovereignty.

Taiwan’s military also said it detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of coastal Kinmen County on Friday night and fired warning flares in response.

The four drones, which Taiwan believed to be Chinese, were seen over the waters around the Kinmen island group and nearby Lieyu Island and Beiding Islet, according to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command.

Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands just 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province in the Taiwan Strait, which divides the two sides that were separated in the midst of civil war in 1949.

“Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations, ready to respond as needed,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet.

“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop any escalation of the regional security situation,” he added.

The Chinese military exercises began on Thursday and are expected to last until Sunday. So far, the exercises have included missile attacks on targets in the seas to the north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwan leaders and voters.

Taiwan has put its military on alert and has carried out civil defense exercises, while the United States has deployed numerous naval assets in the area.

The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the United States remains committed to a “one China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged, but did not prevent, Pelosi’s visit.

China also broke off defense and climate talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.

Pelosi said Friday in Tokyo, the last leg of her Asia tour, that China will not be able to isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from traveling there.

Pelosi has been a longtime advocate for human rights in China. She, along with other lawmakers, visited Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1991 to support democracy two years after a bloody military crackdown on protesters in the square.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks aimed at taking down Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry website doubled between Thursday and Friday, compared with similar attacks before Pelosi’s visit, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. The ministry did not specify the origin of the attack.

Other government ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of the Interior, also faced similar attacks on their websites, according to the report.

A distributed denial of service attack aims to overload a website with requests for information that eventually crashes it, making it inaccessible to other users.

Also on Saturday, the Central News Agency reported that the deputy head of Taiwan’s 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 years old and had supervised several missile production projects.

The report says his hotel room in the southern county of Pingtung, where he was on a business trip, showed no signs of intrusion.

Taiwanese are overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the status quo of the island’s de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island be unified with the mainland under communist control.

Globally, most countries adhere to the “one China” policy, which is a requirement for maintaining diplomatic relations with Beijing.

Any company that does not recognize Taiwan as part of China often faces a swift backlash, often with Chinese consumers vowing to boycott its products.

On Friday, Mars Wrigley, the maker of the Snickers candy bar, apologized after posting a video and materials featuring South Korean boy band BTS referring to Taiwan as a country, drawing swift criticism. of Chinese users.

In a statement on its Weibo account, the company expressed “deep apologies.”

“Mars Wrigley respects the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and conducts business 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.”

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