- The Chinese broke up, and the long ships were closing in on Taiwan
- China holding the last three scheduled days of drilling
- Chinese aircraft carrier and involved in drills
- Taiwan reports many Chinese aircraft nearby
TAIPEI, April 10 (Reuters) – China’s military conducted air and naval drills around Taiwan on Monday, the last day of scheduled exercises, with Chinese fighter jets joining in combat patrols as Taipei reported another missile strike near the island.
China announced the three-day drills on Saturday, after Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen returned to Taipei, following a meeting in Los Angeles with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China views Taiwan as democratically administered as its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island back under Beijing’s control. Taiwan’s government has strongly denounced China’s controversial protests and drills.
Chinese state television said the aircraft, including nuclear-capable H-6 bombers armed with live missiles, and long-range drill ships are “establishing a multi-directional island, surrounding blockade situation.”
“In the Taiwan Strait, between the south and south of Taiwan and the waters of the east of Taiwan (Chinese forces), it has begun to attack, giving full advantages in making sports, turning more softly to seize opportunities and advancing at high speed to determine the adversaries,” the report said.
The Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army said the Shandong carrier also took part in the battle stations and showed fighters disembarking from the ship.
Taiwan’s Shandong track last week is in the Pacific Ocean.
Taiwan’s defense ministry released a map last Monday of the last 24 hours of Chinese air force activity, showing four carrier-based Chinese 15 fighter jets operating in the Pacific Ocean off the eastern coast of Taiwan.
The ministry said that as of noon on Monday, 59 military aircraft and 11 ships had crashed near Taiwan, and the Shandong carrier group was conducting an exercise in the western Pacific.
Shandong conducted air operations in waters near Japan’s Okinawan islands on Sunday, Japan’s defense ministry said on Monday.
Jet fighters and helicopters took off and landed on the carrier 120 times between Friday and Sunday, when the carrier brought three other long-ships and a support vessel within 230 kilometers (143 miles) of Japan’s Miyako island, the defense ministry said.
Japan has been following China’s military drills around Taiwan with “great interest,” a top government spokesman said on Monday.
Japan has long been concerned about China’s military activities in an area that is close to the Japanese islands south of Taiwan.
“The importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important not only for the security of Japan, but also for the stability of the international community as a whole,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
The southern Japanese island of Okinawa is home to a major US air force base, and last August it was playing war games with China, such as the visit of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, where Chinese missiles landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The United States has said it will also closely monitor China’s drilling.
‘Scream at the target’
China’s simulated military strike against Taiwan in a second day of drills around the island on Sunday.
The Eastern Command on Monday released a short video on its WeChat account showing “an H-6 bomber flying in what was the sky of northern Taiwan.”
“The missiles are in good condition,” said an unidentified voice, as video footage from the cockpit showed.
“Fire control unit begins, keyboard on target” says another voice showing images of the missile under the wing of the aircraft
The pilot then points to the control button to prepare to fire, which he describes as a simulated attack, and then presses the button, even though it does not show that any weapons have been fired.
Taiwan’s military has repeatedly said it will respond calmly to China’s drills and not provoke conflict.
The defense ministry separately released images on Monday of the mobile launchers of Taiwan-made Hsiung-Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles in place, as well as armed missiles that rapidly attack ships at sea.
Reuters reporters at Maobitou Promontory Park in Pingtung County in the southern tip of Taiwan saw Hsiung Feng deploy the launchers in a scenic spot on Monday nearby, as soldiers stood guard and tourists looked on.
Life in Taiwan continued as normal with no signs of panic or disruption, and civilian flights operating as usual.
“Most people are probably not afraid, since the main thing is that everyone thinks that China will certainly not start a war,” said retired and former soldier Tang Pao-hsiung, 78.
Taiwan’s stock market eased tensions, with the benchmark index (.TWII) up about 0.2% early Monday afternoon.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Fabiani Hamacher, Ann Wang and Ebrahim Harris in Pingtung, Taiwan, Liz Lee in Beijing and Tim Kelly and Satoshi Sugiyama in Tokyo; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Jamie Freed and Gerry Doyle
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