China to hold fresh drills around Taiwan

Beijing has said they will continue until midday Sunday



Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

By AFP

Published: Fri 5 Aug 2022, 7:12 AM

China was set to press ahead Friday with its largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan.

The US House speaker was the highest-profile US official to go to Taiwan in years.

China on Thursday launched a series of exercises in multiple zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at some points coming just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the island's shores.

The drills involved a "conventional missile firepower assault" in waters to the east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said. Beijing has said they will continue until midday Sunday.

Beijing's state-run Xinhua news agency reported the Chinese army "flew more than 100 warplanes including fighters and bombers" during the exercises, as well as "over 10 destroyers and frigates."

State broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles had flown over Taiwan.

Taiwan said the Chinese military fired 11 Dongfeng-class ballistic missiles "in several batches", while Japan claimed of the nine missiles it had detected, four were "believed to have flown over Taiwan's main island".

Taiwan has said it would not confirm missile flight paths, however.

China has defended the drills as just countermeasures in the face of provocations by the United States and its allies in Taiwan.

Japan has lodged a formal diplomatic complaint against Beijing for the drills, with five of the missiles believed to have landed in its exclusive economic zone.

And Prime Minister Fumio Kishida Friday slammed the drills as a "serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens" and called for an "immediate cancellation of the military drills."

The manoeuvers are taking place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to supply vital semiconductors and electronic equipment produced in East Asian factory hubs to global markets.

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Taiwan's Maritime and Port Bureau has issued warnings to ships to avoid the areas being used for the Chinese drills.

The Taiwanese cabinet has also said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes passing through its flight information region (FIR).

Several international airlines have told AFP they will divert flights from airspace around Taiwan island.

"China's planned live-fire exercises are occurring in an incredibly busy waterway," Nick Marro, the Economist Intelligence Unit's lead analyst for global trade, wrote in a note.

"The shutting down of these transport routes -- even temporarily -- has consequences not only for Taiwan, but also trade flows tied to Japan and South Korea."

But markets in Taipei appeared to shrug off the tensions, with the Taiwan Taiex Shipping and Transportation Index, which tracks major shipping and airline stocks, up 2.3 per cent early Friday.


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