China’s largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan has kicked off on Thursday, in a show of force straddling vital international shipping lanes after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi paid a visit to the island.
Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a trip that defied a series of threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its territory.
Pelosi during her trip to the island revealed that her visit made it “unequivocally clear” that the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.
Meanwhile, Pelosi’s visit has since sparked furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed “punishment” and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan — some of the world’s busiest waterways.
According to state media, the exercises, which began around 12 pm (0400 GMT), involve “live-firing”.
“Six major areas around the island have been selected for this actual combat exercise and during this period, relevant ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant waters and airspaces.”
The exercises are taking place in multiple zones around Taiwan — at some points within just 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the shore — and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
Reacting to the development in a statement, Taiwan’s defence ministry said it was closely watching the drills.
“The Ministry of National Defence stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes.’’