China this morning carried out the biggest live ammunition test ever carried out near Taiwan, in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
According to the Japanese news agency Kyodo, the five missiles fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a region in the sea that is part of the country’s waters and is about 370 kilometers from the coast.
Chinese military helicopters fly over Pingtan Island, one of the closest points to mainland China from Taiwan, in Fujian province (Photo: Héctor Retamal / AFP Photo)
This is the First time China’s missiles hit the Sea of Japan, according to Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. Kishi said the Japanese government sent a formal protest to China through Japan-only diplomatic channels (ZEE).
China has yet to comment on Japan’s accusation.
Earlier, the Chinese government launched 11 missiles near Taiwan in largest military exercise ever conducted by China in the region with live ammunition.
The Taiwan government confirmed the exercises, and also said that Chinese naval ships and military aircraft had briefly crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the marking that separates the two countries.
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China exercises seen from island near Taiwan
Beijing called the military exercises, as well as other maneuvers in recent days around Taiwan, “fair and necessary” and blamed the United States and its allies for the escalation of tensions.
The exercises are China’s response to US congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The trip, which lasted less than 24 hours between Tuesday (2) and Wednesday (3), infuriated Beijing, which considers the island part of its territory.
5 Points to Understand the Tension Caused by Nancy Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan
Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan angered Beijing, which has promised strong retaliation against the United States. So far, however, it has been the Asian island that has paid the highest price for the American guest and has already begun to suffer the consequences of the visit with a series of sanctions announced by China.
On Wednesday, Beijing suspended imports of items such as fruit and fish products from Taiwan, as well as halting exports of natural sand to the island. Chinese customs also canceled imports from 35 Taiwanese cookie and candy exporters.
Beijing also carried out an unofficial naval air blockade, in anticipation of Thursday’s exercises.
The reprisals so far have been seen more as symbolic than practical, a message from Beijing to the Taiwan government of what more may be to come. Experts estimate that the Chinese government’s pressure on the island would already increase, regardless of the visit of the President of the North American Chamber.
Taiwan Deputies and Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House, on August 2, 2022 — Photo: Handout Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Via Reuters
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Tuesday (2) was the first time in 25 years that a high-ranking US-style official has visited the island of 24 million people., which China claims to be part of its territory. Therefore, Beijing said that Pelosi’s trip was a “severely wrong signal to separatist forces in favor of Taiwan independence”.
On the visit, which lasted less than 24 hours, Pelosi met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, paid a visit to the Taipei Human Rights Museum and visited Parliament.
Although Nancy Pelosi spoke on behalf of the United States, the House Speaker’s visit was not unanimous within the country. On July 21, US President Joe Biden – who is a member of and close to Pelosi – said the military felt the visit was “not a good idea”.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then Congresswoman, on a surprise visit to Tiananmen Square in 1991. Pelosi has a long history of opposing the Chinese government. — Photo: Associated Press
Still, the House leader, who has a history of confrontation with China, insisted on the trip. Thirty years ago, Pelosi unexpectedly appeared in Tiananmen Square with posters honoring the Chinese government dissidents killed in the protest that marked the place in 1989.