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China conducts its largest ever military exercise in the Taiwan Strait, and Guterres is closely following the developments

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China sent dozens of planes and fired missiles near Taiwan on Thursday in its largest-ever military exercise in the Taiwan Strait, a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-ruled island.

The Chinese military confirmed the launch of several missiles in the waters off Taiwan as part of the exercises scheduled in six regions, and it is scheduled to continue until Sunday noon.

China Central Television reported that 100 aircraft, including fighters, bombers and more than a dozen warships, took part in the exercises.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said that on Thursday, the island quickly sent fighter planes to warn 22 Chinese planes that crossed the mid-line and entered its air defense zone. It said its forces fired light shots late on Thursday to drive away four drones that flew over its Kinmen Islands region off the southeast coast of China.

She noted that the missiles launched by China flew very high in the atmosphere and did not pose a threat, in response to public concerns about whether the missiles had passed over the main island of Taiwan.

Japan also intercepted after five missiles apparently landed in its economic zone.

“The US-Taiwan complicity and provocation will only push Taiwan to the brink of disaster, which will have serious consequences for Taiwanese citizens,” a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said.

In response to China’s exercises, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said her country would not make provocations that could lead to war, but would resolutely defend its sovereignty and national security.

“Taiwan will never succumb to challenges,” Tsai said in a video message to her people. “We are calm without recklessness and rational without provocation, but we are also resolute and will not back down.”

The White House condemned China’s moves as “irresponsible” and said it expected Chinese reactions to continue in the coming days.

“Beijing’s provocative actions constitute a significant escalation in its long-running attempt to change the status quo,” said John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council.

Kirby added that Washington had postponed a long-scheduled test launch of the Air Force’s Minuteman 3 ICBM, in order to avoid further escalation.

Taiwan also said 11 Chinese Dongfeng ballistic missiles were fired into its waters for the first time since 1996.

Taiwan officials said the exercises violated international laws and constituted an infringement on its scope and a threat to the freedom of air and sea navigation.

Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949 when the Communists led by Mao Zedong seized power in Beijing after defeating the Kuomintang (KMT) nationalists of Chiang Kai-shek in a civil war, prompting the Chinese Nationalist Party-led government to retreat to the island. .

China’s military activities followed Pelosi’s unannounced visit to Taiwan.

hacker attacks

A Taiwanese source briefed on the developments told Reuters that, before the official start of military exercises, Chinese navy ships and warplanes crossed the center line in the Taiwan Strait several times for brief periods on Thursday morning.

By midday, warships from both sides remained close to each other, as Taiwan swiftly dispatched fighters and deployed missile systems to spot Chinese planes crossing the mid-line.

“They flew in and then came out several times. They continued to harass us,” the Taiwanese source said.

China, which has repeatedly said it reserves the right to take back Taiwan by force, says its differences with the island are an internal affair.

In Taiwan, life has proceeded fairly normally, despite fears that Beijing could fire missiles over the island, as North Korea did with the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido in 2017.

“When China says it wants to annex Taiwan by force, it actually said it a long time ago,” said Chen Ming-cheng, a 38-year-old real estate broker.

Taipei said that the websites of official parties, including the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Office, were subjected to electronic attacks by hackers, and warned of a coming “psychological war.”

Comrade Pelosi

China Central Television quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as describing Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as “reckless, irresponsible and totally irrational.”

Speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Cambodia, Wang added that China has tried to avoid the crisis through diplomatic means but will never allow its core interests to be harmed.

Unusually, China’s Xinhua News Agency published reports on military exercises taking place in six regions surrounding Taiwan with a map showing the places, a move that some analysts considered intended for an internal and external audience.

In Beijing, security was unusually tight near the US embassy, ​​although there were no signs of major protests.

“I think (Pelosi’s visit) is a good thing,” said a Beijing resident. “It gives us the opportunity to encircle Taiwan and take advantage of that opportunity to seize control of it by force. I think we should thank Comrade Pelosi.”

Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, praised the island’s democracy and pledged solidarity with it. She said China’s anger would not prevent world leaders from visiting Taiwan.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it clear without any doubt that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwan’s president. Beijing suspects Tsai is seeking formal independence from China, which she sees as a red line.

China summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to protest and stopped the entry of many agricultural imports from Taiwan.

The United States and the foreign ministers of the seven major industrialized countries warned China against using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

The United States has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan but is obligated by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself. Taiwan rejects China’s claims to sovereignty and says only its people should decide the fate of their country.

A spokesman for the United Nations said that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is following developments closely and with concern.

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