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.
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 situation, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Twitter.
China launched live-fire military exercises following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this week, saying her visit 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.
Separately on Saturday, Taiwan’s military detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying in the vicinity of coastal Kinmen County, Taiwan’s Central News Agency reported.
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.
The Taiwanese military fired warning flares in response.
“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.
Kinmen, also known as Quemoy, is a group of islands administered by Taiwan. The islands are located approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province.
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 conducted civil defense exercises, while the United States has numerous naval assets in the area.
The Biden administration and Pelosi have said the US 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 talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
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.
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