About 20 military ships – half from China and half from Taiwan – are involved in a stand-off near the Taiwan Strait’s sensitive median line, according to Reuters.
It comes as China says its military has carried out simulated precision strikes on “key targets on the island and the surrounding sea areas” during a second day of drills, and Taiwan reported multiple air force sorties by Beijing.
The mock air and sea attacks were on “foreign military targets” in waters off Taiwan‘s southwest coast on Sunday, a security source told the news agency.
“Taiwan is not their only target,” said the unnamed source who was familiar with the situation. “It’s very provocative.”
China, which claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory, is carrying out the second of three days of exercises around the island. On Saturday, dozens of Chinese military aircraft crossed the median line that serves as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said it had spotted 70 Chinese aircraft, including Su-30 fighters and H-6 bombers, as well as 11 ships, around the island on Sunday.
China’s aircraft carrier Shandong, which Taiwan has been monitoring since last week, is now more than 400 nautical miles off Taiwan’s southeast coast and is carrying out drills, the source said.
The 20 or so ships involved in the stand-off did not behave provocatively, they added.
The defence ministry said its forces will “not escalate conflicts nor cause disputes” and would respond “appropriately” to China’s drills.
Chinese state television reported that the combat readiness patrols and drills around Taiwan were continuing.
It said: “Under the unified command of the theatre joint operations command centre, multiple types of units carried out simulated joint precision strikes on key targets on Taiwan island and the surrounding sea areas, and continue to maintain an offensive posture around the island.”
This was the first time China had openly talked of simulated attacks on targets in Taiwan, Zhao Xiaozhuo of China’s Academy of Military Sciences told the Chinese state-backed Global Times newspaper.
Key targets would include infrastructure such as runways, military logistics facilities and mobile targets “to annihilate them in one fell swoop if necessary”, the report cited Mr Zhao as saying.
Military exercises after controversial US visit
China began the exercises the day after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a controversial visit to the US where she met Republican and Democrat congressional leaders.
Beijing sees any interaction between US and Taiwanese officials as a challenge to its claim to the island.
During her trip, Ms Tsai had talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, making him the most senior US figure to meet a Taiwanese leader on American soil since 1979.
The president’s visit was condemned by Beijing, with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson attacking the “egregiously wrong action taken by the US and Taiwan” and vowing to take “strong and resolute measures to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Beijing considers Ms Tsai a separatist and has rejected her repeated calls for talks. She says only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
What is America’s position on Taiwan?
Under its ‘One China’ policy, the US recognises and has formal ties with China, while it also maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan.
Washington is bound by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
The US State Department says on its website: “We oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo from either side; we do not support Taiwan independence.”
Source : SkyNews