The Chinese military’s Eastern Theater Command said around noon local time on Sunday that it “continued” with live fire drills in the waters and airspace around Taiwan “as planned”.
“The exercises focused on joint fire-land strikes and long-range air strikes,” the command said in a statement on its official account on the social media platform Weibo, without specifying whether the exercises have ended.
The Taiwanese military “monitored” the situation closely, deploying planes and ships to respond “appropriately” to Chinese military exercises around the island, the defense ministry added. It also said drones “invaded” remote islands controlled by Taiwan.
The ministry did not immediately give an exact number of Chinese planes, ships or drones that were detected Sunday morning and whether they crossed the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait separating the island from mainland China.
China announced the exercises — the magnitude of which marks a significant escalation from past activity — within an hour of the arrival of Pelosi and a congressional delegation in Taiwan on Tuesday evening. The stop, which was expected but not announced in advance, was part of a larger Asia tour.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, 14 ships and 20 aircraft belonging to the Chinese army were discovered around the Strait on Saturday. Of the 20 planes, 14 passed through the median line, it added.
The previous day, Friday, 68 Chinese warplanes were reported in the Taiwan Strait, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry. Of those, 49 entered the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone – a buffer of airspace commonly referred to as an ADIZ. That was just a few planes short of last year’s record when 56 Chinese warplanes entered the ADIZ on the same day.
Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang on Sunday reiterated Taiwan’s condemnation of the exercises.
“Not only Taiwan, but other countries in the region, as well as freedom-loving countries like the US and the like, have vehemently protested and condemned China’s arrogant military operations that disrupt regional peace and stability,” he said at a press conference.
“We call on the Chinese government not to tense its military muscles and not to disrupt regional peace.”
A spokesman for the US National Security Council called China’s recent military activity around Taiwan a “significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo”.
“They are provocative, irresponsible and increase the risk of miscalculation,” the spokesperson said. “They are also at odds with our long-standing goal to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which the world expects.”
Beijing has defended the exercises, saying its actions are “legitimate and justified” and has called the US the “destabilizer of peace in the Taiwan Strait”.