China fired ballistic missiles and moved fighter jets and warships on Thursday as it held its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan, a show of strength sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
Here are the top points in this big story:
- US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the highest-profile US official to visit Taiwan in years, defying a series of stark threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its territory.
- In retaliation, China launched a series of exercises in multiple zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at some points just 20 kilometres from the island’s shore.
- The drills began around 12 noon local time (0400 GMT), and involved a “conventional missile firepower assault” in waters to the east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.
- The Chinese military fired 11 Dongfeng-class ballistic missiles “in several batches”, said Taiwan and condemned the exercises as “irrational actions that undermine regional peace”.
- Taipei’s defence ministry said it had detected 22 Chinese fighter jets briefly crossing the Taiwan Strait’s “median line” during Thursday’s exercises.
- Tokyo has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing over the exercises, with Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi saying five of the missiles were believed to have landed in his country’s exclusive economic zone.
- Beijing has said the drills will last until midday on Sunday and has defended the drills as “necessary and just”, pinning the blame for the escalation on the United States and its allies.
- “In the face of this blatant provocation, we have to take legitimate and necessary countermeasures to safeguard the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular briefing Thursday.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had contacted Beijing “at every level of government” in recent days to call for calm and stability.
- “I hope very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity,” Blinken told ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh.