China and Taiwan have carried out high-seas ‘cat and mouse’ military manoeuvres in the past days
China is reportedly planning to conduct “regular” drills on the east side of the Taiwan Strait median line as the scheduled four days of Chinese military exercises launched in reaction to the US House speaker’s visit to Taiwan draw to an end.
In response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit last week to the self-ruled island, China launched ballistic missiles over the island’s capital for the first time, saying her visit violated the “one-China” policy.
China also cut several lines of communication with the US, including on pressing issues such as the climate crisis.
The country’s military drills that have carried on since Thursday have included missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of Taiwan.
Taiwan has in turn sailed its own warships and planes and put its missiles on standby and has tried to block China’s ability to cross in what was described as high-seas “cat and mouse” military manoeuvres.
In response to these drills, several airlines including Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Singapore’s low-cost offshoot Scoot have cancelled flights to Taiwanese capital Taipei between Thursday and Sunday.
The People’s Liberation Army has not said if it would continue its military exercises after Sunday.
However, Chinese state media reported on Sunday citing a commentator that the country’s military would conduct “regular” drills on the eastern side of the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Military planes and warships from both sides normally do not cross this unofficial buffer separating the two sides, according to Reuters.
Since Thursday, China has fired several missiles, some off the coast of Pingtan island around 128km away from Taiwan, as part of its military’s live-fire missile exercises on 4 August.
Several warships each from China and Taiwan sailed by in close quarters and some Chinese vessels reportedly crossed the median line – seen as an unofficial buffer separating the two sides.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Saturday in a tweet that it believed some of these movements were part of a potential attack simulation on the main island.
The self-governed territory said it put its military on alert, staged civil defense drills and activated land-based missile systems in response to the situation.
With China’s drills expected to come to an end on Sunday, Taiwan said it expected flights through its airspace to gradually resume about noon but said direct flights and ships would continue to be diverted away from one of the drill zones off its east coast until Monday morning.
Citing a source close to the matter, Reuters reported that both sides are showing restraint while remaining vigilant, with the person describing the situation as high-seas “cat and mouse”.
Taiwan’s army would conduct live-fire artillery drills in southern Pingtung County on Tuesday and Thursday, in response to the Chinese exercises, according to the Associated Press citing Taiwan’s government-controlled Central News Agency.
Citing an anonymous source, the report said Taiwan’s drills would include helicopters, armoured vehicles, combat vehicles and snipers.
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen urged the international community to “support democratic Taiwan” and “halt any escalation of the regional security situation”.