Military drills near Taiwan continue


Rare sight: People taking pictures of a Taiwan Air Force Mirage 2000-5 aircraft landing at Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu, Taiwan. — Reuters

China carried out fresh military drills around Taiwan, defying calls for it to end its largest-ever exercises encircling the island in the wake of a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Beijing has raged at the trip by Pelosi – the highest-ranking elected US official to visit Taiwan in decades – ripping up a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington, most notably on climate change and defence.

It has also deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the self-ruled island that China claims as its territory.

Those drills were expected to draw to a close on Sunday, but neither Beijing nor Taipei confirmed their conclusion, though Taiwan’s transport ministry said it had seen some evidence suggesting at least a partial drawdown.

China then said yesterday that they were ongoing, reporting “the eastern theatre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army continued to carry out practical joint exercises and training in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island”.

The exercises, the Chinese military’s Eastern Command said, were “focusing on organising joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations”.

Beijing was also set to carry out live-fire drills in parts of the South China Sea and Yellow Sea.

Taiwan, meanwhile, will hold anti-landing exercises in its southernmost county of Pingtung today and Thursday, Taipei’s army said.

“We will practise counter moves against simulated enemy attacks on Taiwan,” Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for the Eighth Army Corps, said.

To show how close it has got to Taiwan’s shores, the Chinese military released a video of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit.

The Eastern Command also shared a photo it said was of a warship on patrol with Taiwan’s shoreline visible in the background. — AFP

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