China launches long-range airstrike drills around Taiwan on fourth day of military exercises


Chinese forces took part in drills focused on land attacks and long-range airstrikes around Taiwan on Sunday, its military said, on what was expected to be the final day of extensive exercises rolled out in response to a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese military said on Sunday around noon local time that it conducted live-fire drills in the waters and airspace around Taiwan “as planned.”

“The drills focused on joint fire land strikes and long-range air strike capabilities,” the command said in a statement posted to its official account on the social media platform Weibo, without specifying whether the drills have ended.

The exercises, planned to take place in six zones around the island, began Thursday and were scheduled to last until Sunday at noon local time in Beijing, Chinese state media reported.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said that as of 5 p.m. local time on Sunday, 66 Chinese warplanes and 14 Chinese vessels were detected operating around the Taiwan Strait.Among the 22 jets entering the airspace around Taiwan, 12 crossed the median line, the statement read.The ministry previously called the drills a “simulated attack against the main island of Taiwan and Taiwan’s naval vessels” — a slight dial-up of language from Saturday when it said that Chinese military drills around the island could be a “possible simulated attack.”

Taiwan’s military “closely monitored” the situation and deployed aircraft and vessels to “appropriately” react to Chinese military drills around the island, the Defense Ministry added. It also said drones “intruded” into outlying islands controlled by Taiwan.China announced the drills — whose scale marks a significant escalation from past activities — within an hour of the arrival of Pelosi and a congressional delegation in Taiwan on Tuesday evening. The stop, which was expected but not announced beforehand, was part of a larger Asia tour.

Chinese officials had repeatedly warned Washington of unspecified repercussions in the lead-up to the expected trip. In addition to the drills, Beijing also launched a raft of diplomatic penalties, including canceling future phone calls between Chinese and US defense leaders and suspending bilateral climate talks.



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