BEIJING—The Chinese regime said Sunday it carried out its fourth consecutive day of military drills in the air and sea around Taiwan in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island, despite international calls to calm the tensions.
The Chinese army said the exercises focused on testing its long-range air and ground strikes. It did not say if it will continue the drills after Sunday.
Taiwan said that it continued to detect several batches of Chinese aircraft, ships, and drones operating around the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island and mainland China, and “simulating attacks on the island of Taiwan and our ships at sea.”
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it detected a total of 66 Chinese aircraft and 14 Chinese warships conducting joint naval and air exercises around the Taiwan Strait. In response, Taiwan deployed air reconnaissance patrols, naval ships, and shore-based missiles, and said that it will continue to closely monitor the situation.
Taiwan’s official Central News Agency meanwhile reported that Taiwan’s army will conduct live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday, in response to the Chinese exercises.
The drills will include snipers, combat vehicles, armored vehicles as well as attack helicopters, said the report, which cited an anonymous source.
The Chinese regime set up no-go areas around Taiwan for the four-day drills it announced immediately after Pelosi’s trip to Taipei on Tuesday and Wednesday that infuriated the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which saw it as a violation of the “one-China” policy.
The CCP claims Taiwan as its own and has threatened to annex it by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects the CCP’s claims, saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future. The two sides split in 1949 after a civil war. Taiwan is a de facto independent country, with its own military, democratically elected government, and constitution.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense emphasized that its military was surveilling the situation and had dispatched aircraft and ships to respond accordingly.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has called on the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
The Chinese regime has so far conducted missils strikes on targets in the seas around Taiwan, and sent warships across the Taiwan Straits median line. It has also cut off defense and climate talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for her visit.
The Biden administration and Pelosi say the United States remains committed to the “one-China” policy but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.
The United States however criticized the CCP’s actions in the Taiwan Strait, with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling them “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“There’s no need and no reason for this escalation,” Jean-Pierre said.