Suspected Chinese drones flew over Taiwan and hackers attacked its defense ministry website, authorities in Taipei said on Thursday, a day after a diplomatic visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outraged the Communist nation.
China was to begin a series of military exercises around Taiwan on Thursday in response to Pelosi’s visit, some of which were to take place within the island’s 12-nautical-mile sea and air territory, according to the defense ministry in Taipei.
That has never happened before and a senior ministry official described the potential move as ‘amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan’.
Taiwanese army units fired flares at suspected Chinese drones that flew over the island nation’s airspace after Pelosi’ visit
Nancy Pelosi, center, with New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, far right, just before they boarded her US Air Force jet in Taipei and left Taiwan following a historic visit that enraged China and escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington
Taiwanese defense officials reported unidentified aircraft, probably drones flying over the Kinmen Islands
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said on Thursday its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal affair.
‘Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, external forces is reasonable, lawful,’ China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said.
China’s Xinhua news agency has said the exercises, involving live fire drills, will take place in six areas which ring Taiwan and will begin at midnight.
Taiwan is a set of islands located around 80 miles off the coast of mainland China, where the East China Sea meets the South China Sea
Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the US House of Representatives, celebrated her Wednesday meeting with Taiwan’s female president Tsai Ing-wen, saying it shows the US ‘will not abandon its commitment’ to the island
A handout photo made available by the Taiwan Presidential office shows Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (R) and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bumping elbows during their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Taipei on Wednesday
On Wednesday night, just hours after Pelosi left for South Korea, unidentified aircraft, probably drones, had flown above the area of the Kinmen islands, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.
Major General Chang Zone-sung of the army’s Kinmen Defense Command told Reuters that the drones came in a pair and flew into the Kinmen area twice on Wednesday night, at around 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.
‘We immediately fired flares to issue warnings and to drive them away. After that, they turned around. They came into our restricted area and that’s why we dispersed them,’ he said.
The heavily fortified Kinmen islands are just off the southeastern coast of China, near the city of Xiamen.
The defense ministry also said its website suffered cyber attacks and went offline temporarily late on Wednesday night, adding it was working closely with other authorities to enhance cyber security as tensions with China rise.
Pelosi, the highest-level U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged American solidarity during her brief stopover, adding that Chinese anger could not stop world leaders from travelling there.
China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and halted several agricultural imports from Taiwan.
Security in the area around the U.S. Embassy in Beijing remained unusually tight on Thursday as it has been throughout this week.
Although Chinese social media users have vented fury on Pelosi, there were no signs of significant protests or calls to boycott U.S. products.
The view from the deck of a Chinese missile destroyer taking part in military drills in the Taiwan Strait today, as Beijing menaces its democratic neighbour
A Chinese anti-aircraft crew open fire with a mobile gun during live-fire drills that began on Tuesday and will last until Thursday, when even larger sea and air drills begin
Chinese anti-aircraft forces in its Eastern Theatre – which covers the Taiwan Strait – take part in live-fire exercises overnight in an effort to intimidate Taipei and the US
A Xian H-6 Chinese bomber jet takes part in military drills in the skies near Taiwan today, as Beijing puts on an unprecedented show of force after Nancy Pelosi visited the island
China has flown 27 fighters including six J-11 jets (pictured today) into Taiwan’s air defence zone as Beijing continues to threaten Taipei over its ties with the US
Chinese anti-aircraft batteries take part in military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan
Taiwan scrambled jets on Wednesday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft in its air defense zone, the island’s defense ministry said, adding that 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.
Pelosi arrived with a congressional delegation on her unannounced but closely watched visit late on Tuesday, defying China’s repeated warnings and amid sharply deteriorating U.S.-Chinese relations.
‘Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan,’ Pelosi told Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – a red line for China.
‘Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that’s the message we are bringing here today.’
China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control. The United States and the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations warned China against using the visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.
‘Sadly, Taiwan has been prevented from participating in global meetings, most recently the World Health Organization, because of objections by the Chinese Communist Party,’ Pelosi said in statement issued after her departure.
‘While they may prevent Taiwan from sending its leaders to global forums, they cannot prevent world leaders or anyone from travelling to Taiwan to pay respect to its flourishing democracy, to highlight its many successes and to reaffirm our commitment to continued collaboration,’ Pelosi added.