China begins final day of military exercises around Taiwan
Taipei: China continued its controversial military exercises around Taiwan on Sunday, in what is due to be the last day of the maneuvers that have considerably increased tensions in the region following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
Taiwan’s military reported that 20 Chinese military aircraft and 14 warships had taken part in Saturday’s exercises, with Chinese drones again observed over the Taiwan-administered island of Kinmen, which lies just 10 km from the port city of Xiamen on the Chinese mainland, reports dpa news agency.
According to experts, there have been no Chinese overflights of the island, also known as Quemoy, since the 1950s.
Also on Saturday, the Defence Ministry in Taipei had said that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is performing “what it believed to be a simulation of an attack on Taiwan’s main island”.
In response, Taiwan’s military had sent aircraft, radioed warnings and mobilized missile defence systems to track the Chinese military aircraft.
The Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s government agency on policy dealings with Beijing, strongly protested China’s simulation, asking to immediately stop the irresponsible provocation.
The Chinese leadership in Beijing launched the maneuvers in response to Pelosi’s visit early last week.
The exercises represent China’s biggest display of military strength since missile exercises carried out in the mid-1990s led the US to send two aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait.
China has long claimed Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory, and has threatened to retake the island by force should it attempt to declare independence.
The Taiwanese, however, have long seen themselves as a separate nation.