The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said on Sunday around noon local time that it would “continue” to conduct live-fire exercises “as planned” in the waters and airspace surrounding Taiwan.
“The exercise focused on joint fire land strike and long-range air strike capabilities,” the command said in a statement posted to its official account on social media platform Weibo, without specifying whether the exercise had ended.
Taiwan’s defense ministry added that Taiwan’s military is “closely monitoring” the situation and deploying aircraft and ships to “appropriately” respond to China’s military exercises in Taiwan. It also said drones “invaded” outlying islands controlled by Taiwan.
The ministry did not immediately provide the exact number of Chinese planes, ships or drones spotted Sunday morning, or whether they crossed the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait that separates Taiwan from mainland China.
China announced the drills within an hour of the arrival of Pelosi and a congressional delegation in Taiwan late Tuesday — the scale of which marks a significant escalation of past activities. The stop was expected but unannounced as part of a larger tour of Asia.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, 14 ships and 20 aircraft operated by the Chinese military were spotted near the strait on Saturday. It added that of the 20 aircraft, 14 crossed the centre line.
The day before, on Friday, 68 Chinese warplanes were reported in the Taiwan Strait, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. Of these, 49 entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone – the airspace buffer area commonly known as the Air Defense Identification Zone. That’s just a few fewer than last year’s record of 56 Chinese warplanes entering the air defense identification zone on the same day.
On Sunday, Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Zengchang reiterated Taiwan’s condemnation of the drills.
“Not only Taiwan, but other countries in the region as well as freedom-loving countries such as the United States have strongly protested and condemned China’s arrogant military actions for undermining regional peace and stability,” he told a news conference.
“We call on the Chinese government not to show off its military might and not to undermine regional peace.”
A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council said Saturday that China’s recent military activities around Taiwan were “a major escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo.”
“They are provocative, irresponsible, and increase the risk of miscalculation,” the spokesman said. “They also run counter to our long-term goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which the world expects.”
Beijing has defended the drills, calling its actions “legitimate and reasonable” and calling the United States a “spoiler of peace across the Taiwan Strait.”