China winds down Taiwan ‘attack’ drills

BEIJING (AFP) — China’s largest-ever military exercises surrounding Taiwan were drawing to a close on Sunday following a controversial visit last week to the self-ruled island by United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Beijing has raged at the trip by Pelosi — the second in the line of succession to the US presidency — ripping up a series of talks and cooperation agreements with Washington, most notably on climate change and defense.

It has also deployed fighter jets, warships and ballistic missiles around Taiwan in what analysts have described as practice for a blockade and ultimate invasion of the island.

Those exercises are set to end Sunday, though Beijing has announced fresh drills in the Yellow Sea — located between China and the Korean peninsula — to take place until 15 August.

Sunday saw Beijing conduct “practical joint exercises in the sea and airspace surrounding Taiwan Island as planned,” the Chinese military’s Eastern Command said.

The drills were focused “on testing the joint firepower on the ground and long-range air strike capabilities,” it added.

Taipei’s defense ministry also confirmed that China had dispatched “planes, vessels and drones” around the Taiwan Strait, “simulating attacks on Taiwan’s main island and on ships in our waters.”

Beijing also sent drones over Taiwan’s outlying islands, it added.

In response, the democratic island said it mobilized a “joint intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance system to closely monitor the enemy situation” as well as sending planes and vessels.

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