China began large-scale military exercises on Thursday intended to punish Taiwan for hosting U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, raising cross-strait tensions to their highest level in decades.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Thursday that military manoeuvres had begun in the Taiwan Strait, with the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army carrying out long-range, live-fire exercises and “precision strikes” on the eastern parts of the waterway. About 10 Chinese naval ships had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday night through midday Thursday, while Chinese military aircraft also crossed the unofficial boundary Thursday morning, Reuters reported, citing an unnamed source briefed on the developments. According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, 22 Chinese military aircraft breached the median line a day earlier, during Pelosi’s visit.
Taiwanese officials said the island’s armed forces were operating as usual to monitor the surrounding areas. The defense ministry posted on Twitter:
We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty.
Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week infuriated Chinese leaders, who saw the high-level delegation as a violation of China’s territorial rights and an unnecessary provocation amid deteriorating U.S.-China relations.
Pelosi visited Taiwan despite China’s warning that the visit would have consequences.
China’s ruling Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, but Beijing claims the de facto independent island is an inalienable part of its territory and threatens to seize it by force.