China stages live-fire drills for ‘sealing off’ Taiwan
China has kicked off a third day of live-fire drills near Taiwan in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent trip to the United States, News.Az reports citing Al Jazeera.
Chinese fighter jets carried out “simulated strikes” near the self-governed island during the exercises, which also included the Shandong aircraft carrier, the Chinese military said on Monday.
“Multiple batches of H-6K fighters carrying live ammunition … carried out multiple waves of simulated strikes on important targets on Taiwan Island,” the Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had detected 70 Chinese military aircraft and 11 vessels around Taiwan.
“R.O.C. Armed Forces have monitored the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond [to] these activities,” the ministry said in a statement posted on social media, referring to Taiwan’s official name of the Republic of China.
The ministry said 35 of the detected aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the territory’s air defence identification zone.
The three-day operation dubbed “Joint Sword”, which kicked off on Saturday, is intended to rehearse an encirclement of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory and has threatened to take by force if necessary.
China’s military said the exercises were to practise “sealing off” of Taiwan, while state television said they had formed a “multidirectional island-encompassing blockade situation”.
Taiwan’s government has condemned the exercises, while the US has urged China to show restraint.
Japan said on Monday it was closely following the drills, which are taking place in waters close to its Okinawa Islands, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno saying “peace and stability” in the Taiwan Strait were important for the security of both Japan and the international community.
China’s Shandong, three other warships and a support vessel came within 230km (143 miles) of Japan’s Miyako Island, Japan’s defence ministry said.