Japan: ‘Five Chinese ballistic missiles landed in our EEZ’ – Protest from Tokyo

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LAST UPDATE: 23.40

China today fired missiles it said flew over Taiwan and fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone for the first time as it began military exercises around the island, responding to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei. .

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Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi today called for an “immediate halt” to Chinese military exercises. “China’s actions this time have a serious impact on peace and stability in the region. I call for an immediate halt to these military exercises,” he told reporters in Phnom Penh, where he was attending an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting ).

Despite stern warnings from China, which considers Taiwan one of its provinces, Nancy Pelosi, one of the highest-ranking US officials, spent Tuesday and Wednesday on the island before starting today on a visit to Japan, the last stop of her Asia tour.

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Nancy Pelosi’s initiative is seen by China as a provocation, support for Taiwan’s independence supporters and a breach of the US promise not to have formal relations with the island.

In response, the Chinese military fired a series of missiles that flew over Taiwan before falling for the first time in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under the guise of military exercises in six maritime areas around Taiwan – in busy commercial sea lanes – and sometimes just 20 kilometers from the island’s shores.

Japan protest

Four of the five Chinese ballistic missiles that fell into Japan’s EEZ “reportedly flew over the island of Taiwan,” Japan’s defense ministry said today.

Calling the incident “a serious problem affecting our national security and that of our citizens,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi clarified that “Japan has protested to China through the diplomatic channel.”

For his part, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stressed that Washington had communicated with Beijing “at all levels of government” in recent days appealing for calm.

“I really hope that Beijing will not provoke a crisis and will not look for a pretext to increase its aggressive military operations,” he told colleagues on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.

Twenty-two Chinese fighter jets briefly entered Taiwan’s air defense zone today, Taiwan’s defense minister said at a press briefing on Chinese military exercises.

Air defense systems were persistently tracking Chinese aircraft, he added on his website.

The drills, which began early Thursday afternoon, included “conventional missile fire” off Taiwan’s east coast, said Xi Yi, a spokesman for the Chinese military. “All the missiles hit their target accurately,” he stressed in a statement.

Condemning “senseless actions that undermine regional peace”, Taiwan’s defense ministry confirmed that the Chinese military had fired “11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles” between 13:56 and 16:00 local time into waters north, south and east of Taiwan.

Launching projectiles

On Pingtan, a Chinese island near the exercise site, AFP journalists witnessed the launch of several missiles on Thursday afternoon that left plumes of white smoke behind.

In this part of Chinese territory, which is the closest to Taiwan, reporters also saw five military helicopters flying at low altitude near a tourist site.

The Chinese military drills are expected to end at noon on Sunday.

According to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, citing military analysts, the specific exercises are of an “unprecedented” scale.

“If Taiwanese forces come face-to-face (with the Chinese military) and fire by mistake, (the Chinese military) will respond forcefully and it will be up to the Taiwanese side to bear all the consequences,” an unnamed military source in the ranks told AFP. of the Chinese army.

For Beijing, these exercises are “a necessary and legitimate measure” after Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

The drills are aimed at simulating a “blockade” of the island and include “attacking targets at sea, striking targets on the ground and controlling airspace,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Repetitive tensions

Although the possibility of an invasion of Taiwan, which has a population of 23 million, does not seem likely, concern has intensified since the 2016 election of current President Tsai Ing-wen.

Hailing from a pro-independence party, Tsai, unlike the previous government, refuses to recognize that the island and the mainland are part of “one China”.

Visits by foreign officials and parliamentarians have also increased in recent years, angering Beijing.

However, China does not want the existing situation to worsen or get out of control, experts told AFP.

“An accidental war” caused by an incident “is the last thing Xi Jinping wants” ahead of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) congress, said Titus Chen, a political science professor at National Sun Yat-Sen University. in Taiwan.

With information from APE-MPE

Source: Capital

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