In a show of power and anger against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, the Chinese military Thursday launched missiles around the self-ruled island.
Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a trip that defied a series of stark threats from Beijing, which views the self-ruled island as its territory.
Second in line to the presidency, Ms. Pelosi was the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. She said her presence made it "unequivocally clear" that the United States would "not abandon" a democratic ally like Taiwan.
It sparked a furious reaction from Beijing, which vowed "punishment" and announced military drills in the seas around Taiwan − some of the world's busiest waterways. The exercises, which began around 12 pm (0400 GMT), involve "live-firing", according to state media.
The Rocket Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched “multiple types of conventional missiles into several designated sea regions east of Taiwan, accurately hitting targets,” state-run Chinese daily Global Times reported.
"The missile launches tested the rocket force's strike precision and area denial capabilities," the PLA spokesperson said, adding that the "relevant sea and airspace control off the eastern coast of Taiwan island has been lifted since the live-fire missile drills have hit the targets precisely."
Several videos on social media showed smoke billowing out of the southernmost tips of the Chinese mainland that appear to be a spot of Chinese weaponry from where the missiles are being fired.
Hectic land, air, and naval activities were reported from Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, in the Fujian province.
Taiwan's Defense Ministry confirmed that the Chinese military had launched “several ballistic missiles into water around Taiwan's northeast and southwest” around 1.56 p.m. (0556GMT)
“The (Taiwanese) national army immediately grasped the launch dynamics, activated the relevant defense systems, and strengthened combat readiness,” the ministry said.
China has mounted massive military drills surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing considers its breakaway province, from Thursday until Sunday.
The military response comes after Pelosi landed on the self-ruled island on Tuesday night on an unannounced visit triggering anger from Beijing which sees it as a violation of its territorial integrity.By Rabiu Olugbenga