China begins live-fire military exercises in six zones around Taiwan, says state media – live – The Guardian

China’s military drills begin – reports

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

The Chinese military drills around Taiwan’s main island have started, according to Chinese state media.

At midday local time, state broadcaster CCTV said:

From 12:00 today to 12:00 [04:00 GMT] on the 7th, the People’s Liberation Army is conducting an important military training exercise and organised live fire.

During this actual combat exercises, six major areas around the island were selected and during this period all ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant sea areas and airspace.”

The six identified zones surround the island, and occasionally overlap with Taiwanese territorial waters. Some are also very close to key ports and Taiwanese authorities have accused the PLA of effectively conducting a blockade – a very serious accusation.

“The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on Thursday conducted large-scale military exercises and training activities including live-fire drills around Taiwan island,” the broadcaster added.

Taiwan’s ministry of defence said its armed forces are “operating as usual” and monitoring surroundings. “We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty,” the ministry said.

Key events

Chinese state media outlets are reporting Beijing conducted long-range artillery live-fire shooting drills in the Taiwan Straits, noting that “expected results have been achieved”.

“PLA Eastern Theatre Command Army conducted long-range artillery live-fire shooting drills in the Taiwan Straits, striking targets on the eastern side of the Straits and achieving the expected outcome,” China’s Global Times reported.

“The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted long-range live-fire shooting training in the Taiwan Straits on Thursday at around 1:00 p.m. and carried out precision strikes on specific areas in the eastern part of the Taiwan Straits,” state broadcaster CGTN added.

“The PLA Eastern Theatre Command said that expected results had been achieved.”

A TV screen shows that China’s People’s Liberation Army has begun military exercises including live firing on the waters and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan.
A TV screen shows that China’s People’s Liberation Army has begun military exercises including live firing on the waters and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi earlier described US house speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a “complete farce” at meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Cambodia.

“The irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed. Those who offend China will surely be punished,” he said.

You can watch Wang Yi’s remarks in the video below.

‘Outright farce’: Chinese foreign minister on Pelosi’s Taiwan visit – video

China’s military drills in the north, east and south areas bisect Taiwan’s claimed 12 nautical miles of territorial waters and encircle the island in an “unprecedented formation” a Chinese military professor has said.

Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the National Defence University, told Chinese state television, the locations could provide a snapshot as to how an actual military operation against Taiwan could play out.

“In fact, this has created very good conditions for us when, in the future, we reshape our strategic landscape conducive to our unification,” Meng said, according to a Reuters report.

Chinese forces in two areas off the northern coast of Taiwan could potentially seal off Keelung, a major port, while strikes could be launched from an area east of Taiwan targeting the military bases in Hualien and Taidong, he said.

The “doors” to Kaoshiung could also be closed by Chinese military off the southwestern coast, Meng added.

Here are some of the latest images showing Chinese military helicopters flying past China’s mainland ahead of military drills off Taiwan this afternoon.

A Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest points from Taiwan ahead of massive military drills off the island.
A Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest points from Taiwan ahead of massive military drills off the island. Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
A Chinese military helicopter seen in the sky above Pingtan island in Fujian province.
A Chinese military helicopter seen in the sky above Pingtan island in Fujian province. Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Chinese military helicopters seen as China launches massive military drills off Taiwan on Thursday.
Chinese military helicopters seen as China launches massive military drills off Taiwan on Thursday. Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images
Tourists look on as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island.
Tourists look on as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island. Photograph: Héctor Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has called US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational” action by the United States, state broadcaster CCTV is reporting.

Wang, speaking at the Asean foreign ministers meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, said China has made the “greatest diplomatic efforts” to avert crisis, but will never allow its core interests to be hurt.

China’s current and future measures are necessary and timely defensive countermeasures, carefully considered and evaluated, aimed at safeguarding national sovereignty and security, in line with international and domestic law, CCTV cited Wang as saying.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has thanked the Group of Seven (G7) nations for supporting regional peace and stability after the group called on China to resolve tensions in the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner.

Tsai, in a Twitter post, wrote:

Taiwan is committed to defending the status quo and our hard-earned democracy.

We’ll work with like-minded partners to maintain a free & open Indo-Pacific.”

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Our south-east Asia correspondent, Rebecca Ratcliffe, has some more details surrounding comments made by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as foreign ministers meet in Cambodia today.

Foreign ministers from the 10-member bloc have called for “maximum restraint” regarding the Taiwan Strait, warning the situation could lead to “serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

The bloc, which is currently gathering in Phnom Penh, said in a joint statement that it is “concerned with the international and regional volatility, especially in the recent development in the area adjacent with the Asean region, which could destabilise the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers.”

“Asean calls for maximum restraint, refrain from provocative action,” it added, without mentioning the US or China by name.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his American counterpart Antony Blinken are both visiting Cambodia for talks with Asean ministers. However, they reportedly have no plans to meet together.

While some Asean members, including host country Cambodia, have close ties to Beijing, others are concerned by China’s growing assertiveness, including in the South China Sea.

The world is in dire need of wisdom and responsibility of all leaders to uphold multilateralism and partnership, cooperation, peaceful-coexistence and healthy competition for our shared goals of peace, stability, security and inclusive and sustainable development,” the Asean statement said. It also reiterated “Asean member states’ support for their respective One-China Policy”.

We have a little more detail on how Taiwan is responding to the drills which began just after midday on Thursday.

Ten minutes before the drills were due to begin, Taiwan’s department of defence issued a statement accusing the Chinese government of “irrational behaviour” with its live-fire exercises.

The exercises had “the intention of changing the status quo and disrupting regional peace and stability”, it said.

“The national army will continue to strengthen its alert, and troops at all levels will conduct daily training.”

#ROCArmdForces are operating as usual and monitor our surroundings in response to irrational activities from PRC, aiming for changing the status quo & destabilizing the region’s security. We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty

— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) August 4, 2022

Meanwhile, the US Navy has said the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was conducting scheduled operations in the Philippine Sea in the Western Pacific, a 5.7m square kilometre (2.2m square mile) stretch of ocean that includes waters southeast of Taiwan.

“USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway in the Philippine Sea continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a US Navy Seventh Fleet spokesperson said, as reported by Reuters news agency.

Our correspondent in Taipei, Helen Davidson, is reporting that two unidentified aircraft are appearing on flight trackers around Taiwan.

One has no call sign and has been doing laps of Taiwan’s southern coast in an area aligning with one of the PLA exercise zones, she reports.

The second aircraft has since disappeared but carried the ID FFAB123… It was east of Taiwan’s Lanyu island before dropping off radar.

A Taiwan-based pilot has since replied saying that the FFAB123 aircraft is likely a Seahawk and the one without a callsign is a Poseidon P-8. Both are likely US aircraft.

Two unidentified aircraft appearing on flight trackers
1 has no call sign and has been doing laps of Taiwan’s southern coast in an area aligning with one of the PLA exercise zones. pic.twitter.com/V8hD7HldKk

— Helen Davidson (@heldavidson) August 4, 2022

As Beijing has confirmed its military drills are now underway, Taiwan has said it will strengthen its self-defence capabilities and closely coordinate with the United States and like-minded countries.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday, when asked about China’s planned military drills.

China’s military drills begin – reports

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

The Chinese military drills around Taiwan’s main island have started, according to Chinese state media.

At midday local time, state broadcaster CCTV said:

From 12:00 today to 12:00 [04:00 GMT] on the 7th, the People’s Liberation Army is conducting an important military training exercise and organised live fire.

During this actual combat exercises, six major areas around the island were selected and during this period all ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant sea areas and airspace.”

The six identified zones surround the island, and occasionally overlap with Taiwanese territorial waters. Some are also very close to key ports and Taiwanese authorities have accused the PLA of effectively conducting a blockade – a very serious accusation.

“The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on Thursday conducted large-scale military exercises and training activities including live-fire drills around Taiwan island,” the broadcaster added.

Taiwan’s ministry of defence said its armed forces are “operating as usual” and monitoring surroundings. “We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to our security and sovereignty,” the ministry said.

Multiple reports are suggesting that tensions in the region surrounding Taiwan has led to mass flight re-routing and cancellations due to China’s planned military exercises.

BBC’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell reported that some 900 flights have had to alter their routes because of PLA military exercises off the coast and that 50 flights have been cancelled.

Multiple airlines were advised on Wednesday to adjust their flight routes over the coming days to avoid six “danger zones” near Taiwan.

The Guardian contacted airport authorities on Wednesday, who said the cancelled flights were unrelated to the Chinese military activity.

Reports from #Taiwan that some 900 flights have had to alter their routes because of PLA military exercises off the coast and that 50 flights have been cancelled. #China

— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) August 4, 2022

Asean warns of consequences of volatility

Southeast Asia’s regional bloc Asean has warned that an increase in international and regional volatility could lead to “miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers”.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations made the remarks in a statement from foreign ministers after the bloc’s chair Cambodia had called on all sides to de-escalate tensions over Taiwan.

The statement was released as China’s foreign minister Wang Yi met with his Asean counterparts in Phnom Penh.

China’s French ambassador says Taiwanese people would be ‘reeducated’

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

China’s ambassador to France has said the Taiwanese people would be “reeducated” after any successful annexation by China, in a fiery interview on French television.

The ambassador, Lu Shaye, accused Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party of conducting “extremist” propaganda and turning the Taiwanese people against “reunification” with China.

We will re-educate. I’m sure that…the Taiwanese population will again become favourable of the reunification, and will become patriots again,” he said.

Online, many observers noted the term “reeducation” is also used to describe Chinese authorities treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic Muslims in Xinjiang.

There, authorities have sent an estimated 1-2 million people through what Beijing terms as “vocational education and training centres”.

Human rights groups and other governments say they are in fact part of a massive detention network. Lu denied the re-education would happen under threat, comparing it to French education of students on the values of its republic.

Challenged by the interviewer that Beijing wanted to have people thinking “correctly” in line with its own position because it did not like resistance, Lu said resistance “is not…the problem”.

“The Taiwanese authorities apply an approach of… how should I say… slicing the salami – advancing bit by bit. If we don’t react, if we don’t respond, in the end they will achieve their goal: independence.”

Lu said “the majority” of Taiwan’s population were in favour of formally becoming a part of China just one or two decades ago. It wasn’t clear what his claim was based on.

An analysis of dozens of polls conducted by various organisations between 1994 and 2000 show that only on two occasions have a majority of respondents supported unification. Both were polls conducted by the policy council of the current opposition Kuomintang party, in 2000.

All other polls showed support between 15 and 30%.Recent polling has found support for unification to be at record lows. One poll conducted by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Centre (ESC) in June found just 1.3% of respondents wanted unification “as soon as possible”, and 5.2% wanted to maintain the status quo before an eventual “move toward unification,”.

Chinese ambassador to France saying Taiwan would be subjected to “reeducation” after annexation, ie the Xinjiang treatment https://t.co/tsJ39Jo8ur

— Chris Horton 何貴森 (@heguisen) August 3, 2022

China FM calls Pelosi visit ‘complete farce’, vows to punish those who offend China

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has called US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “complete farce”.

“The irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed. Those who offend China will surely be punished,” he said.

Wang made the remarks on the sidelines of the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Cambodia on Wednesday.

The United States is violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of “democracy,” he told reporters.

Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and others ride the coattails of the United States and act against the noble cause of the Chinese nation.

These perverse actions will not alter the international consensus on the one-China principle, nor the historical trend that Taiwan will return to the motherland.”

China’s SC&FM Wang Yi: Speaker Pelosi’s visit to China’s Taiwan region is an out-and-out farce. The irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed. Those who offend China will surely be punished. pic.twitter.com/OXcnHf7u0T

— Qin Gang 秦刚 (@AmbQinGang) August 3, 2022

Taiwan expects increased ‘psychological warfare’

Taiwan has pledged to step up security against possible disruptions by “overseas forces” including cyber attacks as tensions with China rise following Pelosi’s visit to Tapei on Wednesday.

Taiwan Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng told a media briefing authorities had stepped security at key infrastructure including power plants and airports and increased the cyber security alertness level across government offices, according to a report from Reuters.

Lo said Taiwan expects to be the target in coming days of increased “psychological warfare”, which describes influence campaigns including misinformation to sway public opinion.

We are seeing psychological warfare that is stronger than ever before, and it will intensify in the coming days,” Lo said.

Taiwan officials have repeatedly warned about what they see as a Chinese campaign to weaken people’s support for the government.

Digital minister Audrey Tang said cyber attacks on Taiwan government units on Tuesday surpassed 15,000 gigabits, 23 times higher than the previous daily record.

Several government websites including the presidential office were subject to overseas cyber attacks, some of which authorities said were launched by China and Russia.

EU foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, has again reiterated the G7’s stance on China’s planned military exercises following Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

“There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally,” he said.

“We encourage all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency.”

There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally.

We encourage all parties to remain calm, exercise restraint, act with transparency. https://t.co/b760G8L0J4

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) August 4, 2022

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