The Chinese military on Thursday said it has conducted precision strikes over the Taiwan Strait and “expected results” were achieved, in apparent retaliation to the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei disregarding Beijing’s vociferous warnings.
China views Taiwan as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it and has long vowed to reunify the island with the Chinese mainland, by force if necessary.
Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, the first by a sitting US Speaker in 25 years, has angered China. As the 82-year-old top Democrat left Taiwan on Wednesday, there were already signs of the strains her visit to Taipei had placed on Washington’s testy relationship with Beijing — which warned the Biden administration that her trip would have a “severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations”.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a long-range strike exercise on Thursday afternoon that bombarded a designated area in eastern parts of the Taiwan Straits, official media here reported.
The live-fire exercise took place at around 1300 hours local time and was carried out by the ground force of the PLA Eastern Theatre Command, which oversees Taiwan and related areas.
Precision munitions were launched, and the operation achieved its planned goals, noted without elaborating, the state-run China Daily reported.
Information about previous PLA Ground Force exercises in the Taiwan Straits shows that long-range artillery units equipped with multiple rocket launchers would usually be involved in such events, the report said.
The PLA Eastern Theatre Command has been conducting a series of joint operations in the air and waters surrounding Taiwan since Tuesday night.
State-run Xinhua news agency reported earlier that the PLA will conduct important military exercises and training activities, including live-fire drills, in the air and waters surrounding Taiwan from August 4-7.
In a short statement, the PLA Eastern Theatre Command said precision strikes were carried out in specific areas over the east of the Taiwan Strait.
“It has achieved expected results,” the statement said.
It did not give more details, and it is unclear if the PLA used rockets or missiles in the test.
Multiple drills have been taking place in six areas, according to an announcement by the PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command, after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taipei on Tuesday night.
Furious over the visit of Pelosi to Taipei, the Chinese military on Wednesday conducted a series of naval-air joint drills around Taiwan amid speculation that it may be attempting a blockade of the self-ruled island.
The drills featured the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Joint Logistic Support Force in the sea and air space north, southwest and southeast of the Taiwan island, the PLA Eastern Theatre Command said on Wednesday.
Thursday’s exercises indicate that Beijing is ramping up its intimidation campaign targeting Taipei in the wake of Pelosi’s visit.
It is the first time the PLA has staged such a massive and complicated war game in what it deemed a de facto blockade of the island with almost all the PLA drill areas taking place across the median line that divides the Taiwan Strait and also covering the sensitive eastern coast of Taiwan, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
A US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane and American MH-60R anti-submarine helicopter Seahawk entered an area to the southwest of Taiwan where the PLA is conducting drills close to Kaohsiung around noon when the war games were getting started, the Post report said.
Taiwanese media reported that the Taiwanese air force was scrambling Mirage 2000 and F-5 fighter jets early on Thursday to monitor the situation before the PLA started its war games.
Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defence University, said the exercises cover areas including an area to the east of Pingtan Island in mainland Fujian province, and off the coast of Keelung Port in northern Taiwan.
“The six major areas of this military exercise are the training areas closest to Taiwan island,” he told mainland state broadcaster CCTV.
“It has formed an encirclement of Taiwan island,” the Post report quoted him as saying.