China launches missiles in Taiwan strait as largest ever military drills begin

The Chinese army launched missiles into the Taiwan Strait on Thursday as China’s largest ever military drills encircling the island began.

Taiwan said two missiles were launched near the Matsu islands off the coast of China at around 2 pm (6 am GMT), according to an internal Taiwan security report confirmed by Reuters. 

China’s military has kicked off unprecedented war games that are set to last until noon on Saturday, as Beijing ramps up its intimidation campaign against the self-ruled island following Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said it was watching closely.

“The Ministry of National Defence stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes,” it said in a statement.

Multiple drills have been taking place since noon on Thursday in six areas, according to the PLA.

The air and naval live-fire exercises, some of which are crossing into Taiwan’s air and maritime space, began hours after the US House of Representatives speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday, after conducting the first visit by such a senior US politician to the island in 25 years.

The drills will use some of China’s most advanced weapons, including DF-17 hypersonic missiles and J-20 stealth fighter jets, according to a report by the state-run newspaper Global Times. 

“The exercises are unprecedented as the PLA conventional missiles are expected to fly over the island of Taiwan for the first time,” the paper said.

China’s drills amount to a de facto blockade of the island, Taiwan’s defence ministry claimed.  

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