In an unprecedented display of force, the Chinese military fired missiles around Taiwan during live fire drills Thursday, with reports stating the People’s Liberation Army also “likely” fired a ballistic missile over the island nation.
The move comes after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which China claims is a rogue territory that belongs to them.
“The show of force in response to Mrs. Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory, disrupted commercial air and sea routes and raised concerns about further military escalation,” The Wall Street Journal reported.
“The four-day exercises—which included firing nearly a dozen missiles—are taking place in six zones delineated by the Chinese military. Several face the island’s biggest commercial ports and overlap with what Taiwan claims as its territorial waters.”
“The exercises have begun,” China’s navy said on social media accounts on Thursday afternoon.
Because of where the zones are located, the live-fire drills effectively serve as a blockade of Taiwan, at least for several days, as air and ship traffic are at risk.
Footage of the drills quickly showed up on social media:
NOW – China's PLA Eastern Theater Command begins live-fire military exercises in six zones around Taiwan.pic.twitter.com/jHRWH8kXQN
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) August 4, 2022
However, what didn’t appear on Twitter might have been the most significant development yet.
Japan’s Defense Ministry, according to Bloomberg, said that four ballistic missiles were fired over the main island of Taiwan.
Those were among five missiles fired by China that splashed down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Neither China nor Taiwan would confirm whether missiles overflew the Taiwanese mainland.
However, a social media report from the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command included a Chinese state media interview with a professor who said it happened.
“This can be seen as a clear signal to the Taiwan authorities that current drills have exceeded all previous ones in scale and deterrence,” said National Defense University’s Meng Xiangqing in an interview with China Central Television.