China on Thursday fired multiple missiles toward waters near Taiwan as Beijing refused to budge on its promise that Taipei will pay a price for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island nation.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “China encircled Taiwan with rocket and ballistic-missile fire while testing the democratic self-governing island’s defenses with navy ships and war planes.”
Several zones that were part of the four-day exercises faced Taiwan’s largest commercial ports and overlapped with what Taipei claims as its territorial waters. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications, more than seventy international flights to and from Taipei were rerouted and thirty-five ships were detoured due to the drills.
“This establishes an encirclement of Taiwan island,” Maj. Gen. Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the People’s Liberation Army National Defense University, told China’s state broadcaster.
“This creates very good conditions for reshaping the strategic situation in a way that benefits unification,” he added.
Taiwan reported that long-range rockets had fallen near its islands of Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, which are in the Taiwan Strait. Five of the missiles fired landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the first time this has happened, according to Japanese defense minister Nobuo Kishi.
In a statement, per CNN, Beijing said that “the entire live-fire training mission has been successfully completed and the relevant air and sea area control is now lifted.”
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen, who met with Pelosi during her visit, called the military drills “an irresponsible act.” She added that her country does not want to “provoke disputes” but will defend its sovereignty.
The exercises have “undermined the status quo of the Taiwan Strait, intruded [on] our sovereignty, and heightened tensions in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said in a speech on Thursday night.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry called the live-fire drills an “irrational act” that attempted to “change the status quo.”
“We are closely monitoring enemy activities around the sea of Taiwan and that of outlying islands, and we will act appropriately,” the Defense Ministry continued in its statement.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement accused Beijing of “following North Korea’s example of arbitrary test-fire of missiles in waters close to other countries.”
Meanwhile, John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, slammed Beijing for escalating tensions unnecessarily.
“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” he told the Journal.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he hoped “Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretense to increase its aggressive military action,” adding that the United States remains committed to its “One China” policy.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.