China fired five ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Thursday during controversial live-fire military exercises near Taiwan.
The missiles fell into the sea near Hateruma — an island south of Japan’s main islands, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, according to the Associated Press.
At around 1:56 p.m., China fired up to 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles towards Taiwan’s north, east and south waters, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said.
Japan protested the barrage, saying it posed “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people,” the AP reported.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced Thursday afternoon that it had activated the island’s defense systems in response to the salvo. “We condemn such irrational action that has jeopardized regional peace,” the ministry said.
In a public video address, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen slammed Beijing’s actions as “irresponsible,” adding that China “destroyed the status quo and violated our sovereignty,” according to the AP.
“We are calm and not impulsive, we are reasonable and not provocative,” Tsai said. “But we will also be firm and not back down.”
The Thursday exercises included “sea target assaults, strikes on land targets and airspace control operations, as well as live firing of precision-guided munitions,” Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Tan Kefei said, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Should the US and Japan conduct a similar exercise?
“Chinese armed forces will resolutely defend the country’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity and will never leave any room for any form of ‘Taiwan independence’ activities and external interference,” Tan said.
Beijing announced such maneuvers earlier on Tuesday in response to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landing in Taiwan’s capital Taipei.
Ahead of the exercises, China closed off areas near Taiwan’s maritime borders for the exercises, warning aircraft and ships not to enter those zones.
“The entire live-fire training mission has been successfully completed, and the relevant air and sea area control is now lifted,” the Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement following the Thursday live-fire, CNN reported.
“If the People’s Liberation Army actually invades Taiwan in an all-out invasion, the concrete actions it will take, it’s all in this particular exercise,” Taiwan National Defense University professor Ma Chen-kun said, the Associated Press reported.
“The main thing is they will cut off Taiwan’s links to the outside world, from their sea, they would suppress the coastal defense firepower,” Ma added.
In response to the Chinese maneuvers, the U.S. has positioned a carrier strike group and two amphibious ships, which are heading to the east of Taiwan.
“USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), its escorts and Carrier Air Wing 5 and its escorts are underway in the Philippine Sea. USS Tripoli (LHA-7), which has embarked with up to 20 F-35Bs, is off Okinawa and USS America (LHA-6) has recently departed Sasebo, Japan,” a defense official told USNI News on Thursday.
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