TAIPEI, Taiwan—Chinese aircraft and warships rehearsed an attack on Taiwan on Saturday, island officials said, in retaliation for a visit there by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that also saw the Chinese regime halt talks on security and other issues with the United States.
Pelosi’s brief unannounced visit during the week to Taiwan has prompted military drills from the Chinese regime that have included ballistic missiles fired over the capital, Taipei.
The Chinese regime claims the island as its own, despite the fact that Taiwan is a de facto independent country, with its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.
The Chinese exercises—centered on six locations around the island—are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said multiple Chinese ships and planes conducted missions in the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, in what the Taiwan military described as a simulation attack on the island.
Taiwan’s army broadcast a warning and deployed air reconnaissance patrol forces and ships to monitor while putting shore-based missiles on stand-by.
Its defense ministry also said it fired flares late on Friday to warn away seven drones flying over its Kinmen islands and unidentified aircraft flying over its Matsu islands. Both island groups are close to mainland China’s coast.
On Friday, the Chinese regime’s military said it conducted air and sea drills to the north, southwest, and east of Taiwan to test its forces’ “joint combat capabilities.”
Pelosi arrived in Taiwan late on Tuesday, the highest-level visit to the island by a U.S. official in decades, despite Chinese warnings. Her trip has prompted sanctions against Pelosi and her family from the Chinese regime.
Shortly after her delegation left Japan on Friday, the final stop of a week-long Asia tour, the Chinese regime announced that it was halting dialogue with the United States, including contacts between theatre-level military commanders and on climate change.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking on a visit to the Philippines, said the cessation of dialogue on issues including narcotics and transnational crime, was “irresponsible,” and security contacts were vital to ease tension.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said that China’s suspension of some communication channels was “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“There’s nothing here for the United States to rectify. The Chinese can go a long way to taking the tensions down simply by stopping these provocative military exercises and ending the rhetoric,” Kirby told reporters.
The Chinese regime has not mentioned a suspension of military talks at the senior-most levels, such as with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. While those talks have been infrequent, officials have said they are important in the case of an emergency.
Kirby said it was not atypical for the Chinese regime to shut down military talks at times of tension but “not all channels” between military leaders had been cut.
“Part of this overreaction has been strictly limiting its defense engagements when any responsible state would recognise that we need them now the most,” said acting Pentagon spokesman Todd Breasseale.
Speaking in Japan after meeting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Pelosi said her Asia trip was “not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region.”
Japan’s defense ministry reported that as many as four missiles flew over Taiwan’s capital, which is unprecedented. It also said that five of nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone.
Kishida told visiting U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that he strongly condemned the Chinese regime’s missile launches as “a serious issue concerning Japan’s security and the safety of Japanese people,” the foreign ministry said.
Taiwan has been self-ruled since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communists took power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists in a civil war, prompting their retreat to the island.
Beijing says its relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and that it reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary. Taiwan rejects the Chinese regime’s claims saying only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.
By Yimou Lee and David Brunnstrom