China is reportedly planning to conduct “regular” drills on the east side of the Taiwan Strait median line as four days of military exercises launched following the US House speaker’s visit to Taipei draw to an end.
China launched ballistic missiles over the island’s capital for the first time last week, as it responded to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island which Beijing said violated the “one-China” policy.
China also cut several lines of communication with the US, including on pressing issues such as the climate crisis.
The country’s military drills, which have continued since Thursday, have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of Taiwan.
Taiwan has in turn sailed its own warships and planes and put its missiles on standby, and has tried to block China’s ability to cross in what was described as high-seas “cat and mouse” military manoeuvres.
In response to these drills, several airlines including Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Singapore’s low-cost offshoot Scoot cancelled flights to Taipei between Thursday and Sunday.
The People’s Liberation Army has not said if it would continue its military exercises after Sunday.
However, Chinese state media reported on Sunday, citing a commentator, that the country’s military would conduct “regular” drills on the eastern side of the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Military planes and warships from both sides normally do not cross this unofficial buffer separating the two sides, according to Reuters.
China has fired several missiles since Thursday, some off the coast of Pingtan island around 128km away from Taiwan, as part of its military’s live-fire missile exercises.
Several warships each from China and Taiwan sailed by in close quarters and some Chinese vessels reportedly crossed the median line.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Saturday in a tweet that it believed some of these movements were part of a potential attack simulation on the main island.
The self-governed territory said it put its military on alert, staged civil defence drills and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation.
With China’s drills expected to come to an end on Sunday, Taiwan said it expected flights through its airspace to gradually resume around noon but said direct flights and ships would continue to be diverted away from one of the drill zones off its east coast until Monday morning.
Citing a source close to the matter, Reuters reported that both sides were showing restraint while remaining vigilant.
Taiwan’s army would conduct live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday, in response to the Chinese exercises, according to the Associated Press citing Taiwan’s government-controlled Central News Agency.
Quoting an anonymous source, the report said Taiwan’s drills would include helicopters, armoured vehicles, combat vehicles and snipers.
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, urged the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation”.
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