China fires missiles at Taiwan for the first time, heightens tension in the region

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China said it fired missiles at the island of Taiwan for the first time on Friday, raising tensions in the region as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Japan, whose leaders protested against it. Beijing after five projectiles landed near the Japanese islands.

Pelosi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday morning, with attention focused on the Taiwan Strait, where the Chinese army is carrying out air and sea exercises in response to the US House Speaker’s visit to the island. this week.

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China had already fired missiles into the waters around Taiwan – a democratic island of 24 million people that the Chinese Communist Party considers part of its territory – most notably during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in the 1990s.

But missiles flying over the island marked a significant escalation, with US officials warning there could be more to come.

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“We anticipated that China could take measures like this — in fact, I described them in quite some detail the other day,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters at the White House on Thursday. . “We also expect these actions to continue in the coming days.”

A US aircraft carrier will remain in the area around Taiwan for a few more days to “monitor the situation,” Kirby added.

Speaking in Tokyo on Friday, Pelosi accused China of trying to “isolate Taiwan”, pointing to the island’s exclusion from international groups such as the World Health Organization. “They may try to stop Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they are not going to isolate the island by preventing us from traveling there,” she said.

The US House Speaker added that her visit to Taiwan was to maintain the status quo, not change it.

Kishida added that the Chinese military exercises were “a serious issue regarding the security of our country and its people” and called for the immediate suspension of the exercises. Japan and the US “will work together to maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait,” he said.

Risk assessment

China began military exercises around the island on Thursday, firing several missiles into waters near northeast and southwest Taiwan a day after Pelosi’s departure.

A Chinese military expert confirmed on state broadcaster CCTV that conventional missiles had flown over Taiwan’s main island, including airspace covered by Taiwanese defense missiles.

“We hit targets under observation of the US Aegis combat system, which means that the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets in the waters,” said Major General Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at Defense University. National. in Beijing.

In a statement on Thursday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the missiles had traveled above the atmosphere and therefore posed no risk to the island.

Authorities did not trigger air strike warnings because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan, the ministry said. The ministry added that it would not release more information about the projectiles’ trajectory to protect its intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, including four that would have flown over Taiwan, Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“This is a serious issue that concerns the security of Japan and its citizens. We strongly condemn it,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters during a news conference.

China also sent 22 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday — all crossing the median line that marks the midpoint between the island and mainland China above the Taiwan Strait.

Thursday’s raids were made by 12 SU-30 fighter jets, eight J-11 fighter jets and two J-16 fighter jets, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

Later on Thursday, the ministry said it had detected four drones flying over “restricted waters” around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Islands. The ministry said Taiwan’s military had fired flares to alert the drones, but did not specify the type or origin of the devices.

Source: CNN Brasil

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