BEIJING (AP) — Taiwan said Saturday that China’s military exercises appeared to be simulating an attack on the self-governing island after multiple Chinese warships and planes crossed the centerline in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Twitter that Taiwan’s armed forces had issued an alert, dispatched land, sea and air patrols, and activated land-based missile systems to deal with the situation.
China launched live-fire military exercises after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan earlier this week, saying her visit violated the “One China” policy. China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province that can be annexed by force if necessary, and sees visits by foreign officials as a recognition of its sovereignty.
On Saturday, Taiwanese troops spotted four drones near Kinmen, an offshore county, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
According to Taiwan’s Kinmen Defense Command, the four drones, which Taiwan believes are Chinese, were spotted in the waters surrounding the Kinmen Islands and the nearby islands of Lieyu and Beiding.
In response, the Taiwanese military fired warning flares.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a tweet: “Our government and military are closely monitoring China’s military exercises and information warfare operations and stand ready to respond.”
“I call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop any escalation of the security situation in the region,” she added.
Kinmen, also known as Kinmen, is a group of islands under the jurisdiction of Taiwan. The islands are located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) east of Xiamen in China’s coastal city of Fujian Province.
Chinese military drills began on Thursday and are expected to continue through Sunday. The drills so far have included missile strikes against targets in Taiwan’s northern and southern waters, echoing China’s last major military exercises in 1995 and 1996 aimed at terrorizing Taiwan’s leaders and voters.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and held civil defense exercises, while the United States has large naval assets in the region.
The Biden administration and Pelosi said the U.S. remains committed to a “one China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the Chinese government but allows informal and defense ties with Taipei. The administration discouraged but did not prevent Pelosi from visiting.
China also cut off defense talks with the United States and imposed sanctions on Pelosi in retaliation for the visit.
Pelosi has long been an advocate for human rights in China. In 1991, she visited Tiananmen Square in Beijing with other lawmakers in support of democracy, and two years later, protesters in Tiananmen Square were subjected to a bloody military crackdown.