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China begins live ammunition drills near Taiwan after Pelosi visit

The Chinese military began live ammunition drills near Taiwan on Thursday in a days-long apparent show of force after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island.

The most recent: Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said it activated its defense systems after China’s military launched multiple ballistic missiles into Taipei’s northeast and southwest waters. “We condemn such irrational action which has jeopardized regional peace,” the ministry said.

  • China’s military said earlier it had conducted “long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes” in the eastern region of the Taiwan Strait, as its state media described the exercises as a “joint blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control.”

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Maritime Port Bureau reported that the Chinese military had added a seventh zone because of its exercise encircling the self-governing island.

Why it matters: The zones the Chinese military outlined for the drills encircle Taiwan plus some areas cross into territorial waters claimed by the island, the NY Times notes, raising alarm concerning the prospect of dangerous accidents or miscalculation.

  • The Chinese military warned boats and planes in order to avoid the areas from Thursday through Sunday for the drills, that your Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said violate Taipei’s sovereignty and could amount “to a blockade of Taiwans air and sea space.”
  • The planned exercises “unilaterally undermine regional peace and stability,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday. “This move won’t help Chinas international image and can hurt people on both sides of the strait.”
  • The existing tensions echo the 1996 cross-strait crisis.

What they’re saying: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters from the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cambodia on Wednesday that Pelosi’s stop by at Taiwan was a “complete farce.”

  • He said the “irreversible historical trend of Taiwans go back to the motherland can’t be changed” and the ones “who offend China will certainly be punished.”

Catch up quick: The Chinese government announced the exercises as Pelosi found its way to Taiwan on Tuesday for an overnight visit that angered Beijing, which had warned of “serious consequences” in the times before the trip.

  • Pelosi, probably the most senior U.S. lawmaker to go to the island since 1997, made the trip despite President Biden saying publicly that the U.S. military felt it had been “wii idea at this time.”
  • “Now as part of your America’s solidarity with Taiwan is essential,” Pelosi said early Wednesday local time as she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen.
  • Regardless of the heightened tensions, many in Taipei expressed appreciation for Pelosi’s support, Axios’ Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian reports from Taiwan. Tsai said Wednesday that Taiwan won’t back off amid heightened security threats.

Flashback: China, angered over a trip to the U.S. by then-Tawainese President Lee Teng-hui, conducted missile tests in 1996, with missiles landing in waters off Taiwan and something flying almost directly on the capital, Taipei, Allen-Ebrahimian writes.

  • The U.S., meanwhile, sent two aircraft carrier groups through the Taiwan Strait.

Go deeper… In photos: China’s military drills encircle Taiwan

Editor’s note: This short article has been updated with new details throughout.

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