China launches largest missile ever in Taiwan waters

  • Chinese military exercises include launching missiles
  • Drones are suspected of flying over the islands of Taiwan
  • Taiwan says several government websites have been hacked
  • China says it is a domestic matter

TAIPEI, Aug 4 (Reuters) – China fired several missiles around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-governing island, which Beijing considers its sovereign territory.

After the scheduled start at 0400 GMT, China’s state broadcaster CCTV said the exercises would begin and end at 0400 GMT on Sunday. China’s largest-ever drills in the Taiwan Strait will involve live fire at sea and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan, it said. read more

China’s Eastern Theater Command says it has completed multiple launches of conventional missiles in waters off Taiwan’s east coast as part of planned exercises.

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China last fired missiles into the waters around Taiwan in 1996.

A map showing the six locations where China conducts military exercises.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said several Dongfeng missiles were fired into waters northeast and southwest of the island. read more

According to an internal Taiwan defense report seen by Reuters, China fired two missiles near Taiwan’s Matsu Islands off China’s coast at around 2pm local time (0600 GMT). And confirmed by a Taiwanese security source. read more

Taiwanese officials have said the exercises violate United Nations rules, encroach on Taiwan’s territorial space and pose a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation.

Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has said China is conducting drills along busy international waterways and air routes that are “irresponsible and illegal behavior”.

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Taiwan’s cabinet spokesman expressed strong condemnation of the drills, adding that the websites of the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the President’s Office had been attacked by hackers.

A Taiwanese source told Reuters that Chinese naval vessels and military aircraft briefly crossed the demarcation line of the Taiwan Strait several times on Thursday morning. read more

As of Thursday afternoon, military vessels from both sides were in and near the area.

Taiwan deployed jets and missile systems to monitor several Chinese aircraft crossing the border.

“They flew in, then flew out, again and again. They continue to harass us,” the Taiwanese source said.

China, which claims Taiwan as its territory and reserves the right to occupy it by force, said on Thursday that its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal matter. read more

China’s Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office said, “Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence, external forces is fair and legal.

‘Comrade Pelosi’

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a “crazy, reckless and highly irrational” act by the United States, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wang said China has made great diplomatic efforts to avert a crisis, but will never allow it to hurt its core interests.

Foreign ministers had earlier warned in a statement that volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculation, serious conflict, open conflicts and unpredictable outcomes among major powers”. read more

Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced earlier this week with a locator map circulated by China’s official Xinhua news agency — showing the need for some analysts and scholars to play to domestic and foreign audiences. read more

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On Thursday, the top eight trending items on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service were related to Taiwan, with most expressing support for exercises or anger at Pelosi.

“Let’s reunite the motherland,” wrote several users.

In Beijing, the area around the US embassy was unusually tight on Thursday, as it has been all week. There were no significant protests or calls to boycott American products.

“I think it (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” said a man surnamed Zhao in the capital’s central business district. “It gives us an opportunity to encircle Taiwan, and then we use this opportunity to take Taiwan by force. I think we have Comrade Pelosi to thank.”

US SOLIDARITY

Pelosi, the highest-profile U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged U.S. solidarity during her brief stop, saying Chinese anger could not prevent world leaders from traveling there.

China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing and suspended many agricultural imports from Taiwan to protest his visit.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it clear in no uncertain terms that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects is pushing for formal independence — a red line for China. read more

“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is important, and that’s what we’re bringing here today.”

The United States and Group of Seven foreign ministers warned China against using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said earlier in the week that Pelosi was within her rights to visit Taiwan, while insisting that the trip did not violate Chinese sovereignty or the United States’ longstanding “one-China” policy.

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The United States does not have official diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but it is bound by US law to provide the means to defend itself.

China sees visits by US officials to Taiwan as sending a reassuring signal to the pro-independence camp on the island. Taiwan rejects China’s claim to sovereignty, saying only the Taiwanese people can decide the island’s future.

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Sarah Wu; Additional reporting by Tony Munro, Ryan Wu and Martin Quinn Pollard in Beijing; Written by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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