Thirteen Chinese warships and 68 warplanes were as of 5pm yesterday operating in the Taiwan Strait, with some planes crossing the median line on the second day of four-day drills in retaliation for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Taiwanese jets escorted 49 Chinese aircraft out of the nation’s air defense identification zone, and troops using flares drove Chinese drones away over Kinmen County, it said
“Our government & military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises & information warfare operations, ready to respond as necessary,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wrote on Twitter. “I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan & halt any escalation of the regional security situation.”
Photo: Johnson Lai, AP
China’s Xinhua news agency said fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were used in the “joint blockage operations.”
China on Thursday fired 11 Dongfeng missiles, including four reportedly crossing Taiwan proper at high altitude and five landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Commentators said that Taiwan’s Patriot-III systems could have targeted missiles entering the airspace over Taiwan, but the Dongfengs’ flight path was in outer space, too high for the Patriot systems.
Cyberattacks reached a peak on Tuesday, with methods changing over the past two days. Hackers are now targeting ministerial-level Web sites, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said, adding that the hackers sought to steal data, slow down traffic, block Web sites or change their content, but all attempts had been denied.
The government is on high alert, and the Executive Yuan’s National Center for Cyber Security Technology is working around the clock to assist government agencies in handling technical problems, he added.
The White House on Thursday said it would conduct air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks to defend international law.
The US plans include “standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait,” as Beijing is expected to continue its military activities in the Strait, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
The transits would be consistent with the US’ longstanding approach to defending freedom of the seas and international law, he added.
A strike group led by aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan would “remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation,” he said, confirming Twitter posts by the US Seventh Fleet that the group was in the Philippine Sea conducting “routine operations.”
It would stay “a little bit longer” than planned, Kirby said, adding that the US is “prepared for what Beijing chooses to do” and would continue to support Taiwan, in accordance with the “one China” policy.
The White House has postponed a long-planned test of a US Air Force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing, he said.
“As China engages in destabilizing military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead the behavior of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation and misperception,” Kirby said.
With a range of more than 9,660km, the nuclear-capable Minuteman III is key to the US’ strategic arsenal.
Additional reporting by Wu Su-wei and agencies
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