The Chinese military conducted a simulated invasion of Taiwan on Saturday, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said as China ramped up its largest-ever military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.
Chinese naval and aerial war exercises surrounding Taiwan come after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with the independently governed island’s president and other Taiwanese leaders, a move China deemed provocative and a threat to its territorial sovereignty.
China has said it wants to reunify Taiwan, still recognized as part of a broader China under the One China policy, and called its military exercises a “rehearsal” for a future military operation.
“Multiple [People’s Liberation Army] craft were detected around Taiwan Strait, some have crossed the median line,” the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said in a statement, calling the incursions a “possible simulated attack.”
Taiwanese armed forces activated ready-alert jets to dispel 20 Chinese aircraft, including 14 that crossed the unofficial median line dividing the two countries’ claims in the Taiwan Strait, Reuters reported.
Saturday’s drills focused on practicing a joint air and sea assault of Taiwan, Chinese state-run Global Times reported. “These missions would clear paths for amphibious landing forces to launch beach assaults should a reunification-by-force operation take place,” analysts told the Global Times.
Chinese warships also simulated attacks on U.S. and Japanese naval forces, according to Reuters. The U.S. extended the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group’s deployment in nearby waters to “monitor the situation.”
Chinese military drills began Thursday and were scheduled to continue through Sunday.
China suspended military communication with the U.S. on Friday and broke off cooperation in climate and security matters.
U.S. officials confirmed that Chinese defense officials had not responded to calls from the Pentagon, Politico reported Friday, an act that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “irresponsible.”
“China has chosen to overreact and use Speaker Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” Blinken said at a press conference after a series of meetings with ASEAN partners in Cambodia.
The scale of ongoing military drills “far exceeds” those that took place in 1996, the last time tensions between China and Taiwan peaked, prompting experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to declare a “Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis.”
An audio leak of Chinese war planners discussing strategy for invading Taiwan in May 2022 followed similar People’s Liberation Army exercises billed as a “partial rehearsal” for a Taiwan invasion, the Global Times reported, citing sources. The leak likely was meant to intimidate Taiwan and Western countries and was not accompanied by large-scale mobilization, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Chinese Embassy to the U.S., and the Taiwanese Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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