China begins live ammunition drills near Taiwan after Pelosi visit

The Chinese military began live ammunition drills near Taiwan on Thursday in a days-long apparent show of force after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island.

Latest: Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said it activated its defense systems after China’s military launched multiple ballistic missiles into Taipei’s northeast and southwest waters. “We condemn such irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace,” the ministry said.

  • China’s military said earlier it had conducted “long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes” in the eastern region of the Taiwan Strait, as its state media described the exercises as a “joint blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Maritime Port Bureau reported that the Chinese military had added a seventh zone for its exercise encircling the self-governing island.

Why it matters: The zones the Chinese military outlined for the drills encircle Taiwan and some areas cross into territorial waters claimed by the island, the New York Times notes, raising alarm about the potential for dangerous accidents or miscalculation.

  • The Chinese military warned boats and plans to avoid the areas from Thursday through Sunday for the drills, which the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said violate Taipei’s sovereignty and greater amount “to a blockade of Taiwan’s air and sea space.”
  • The planned exercises “unilaterally undermine regional peace and stability,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday. “This move will not help China’s international image and will hurt people on both sides of the strait.”
  • The current tensions echo the 1996 cross-strait crisis.

What they’re saying: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters from the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cambodia on Wednesday that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was a “complete farce.”

  • He said the “irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed” and those “who offend China will surely be punished.”

Catch-up quick: The Chinese government announced the exercises as Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday for an overnight visit that angered Beijing, which had warned of “serious consequences” in the days leading up to the trip.

  • Pelosi, the most senior US lawmaker to visit the island since 1997, made the trip despite President Biden saying publicly that the US military felt it was “not a good idea right now.”
  • “Now more than ever America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial,” Pelosi said early Wednesday local time as she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.
  • Despite the heightened tensions, many in Taipei expressed appreciation for Pelosi’s support, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports from Taiwan. Tsai said Wednesday that Taiwan will never back down amid heightened security threats.

Flash back: China, angered over a visit to the US by then-Tawainese President Lee Teng-hui, conducted missile tests in 1996, with missiles landing in waters off Taiwan and one flying almost directly over the capital, Taipei, Allen-Ebrahimian writes.

  • The US, meanwhile, sent two aircraft carrier groups through the Taiwan Strait.

Go deeper… In photos: China’s military drills encircle Taiwan

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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