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US watching Chinese military drills ‘very closely’ as ballistic missiles fired into Taiwan strait – live


US watching China military drills ‘very closely’

The US has been watching the Chinese military exercises near Japan “very very closely,” said John Kirby, the US’s National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Kirby said: “We’ve been watching this very, very closely. It’s concerning. It’s not just concerning to us, but it’s concerning, of course, to the people of Taiwan. It’s concerning to to our allies in the region, especially Japan.”

In recent days, China has been conducting its largest-ever military drills near Taiwan following a controversial visit from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled territory.

When asked whether Pelosi’s trip triggered China’s military drills, Kirby said, “The provocateur here is Beijing. They didn’t have to react this way to what is completely normal travel by congressional members to Taiwan…The Chinese are the ones who are escalating this.”

He also warned the risk of calculation of the drills, saying, “One of the things that’s troublesome about exercises like this or missile launches like this is the risk of calculation, the risk of a mistake that could actually lead to some sort of conflict.”

John Kirby in the Brady room on Tuesday.
John Kirby in the Brady room on Tuesday. Photograph: Al Drago/EPA

Key events

Summary

It’s just past 6am in Taipei. Here’s where things stand:

  • The US said on Thursday that China’s launch of ballistic missiles around Taiwan was an overreaction to the visit of US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island. “China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.
  • China has called the US “the biggest saboteur of peace”, as its foreign ministry spokesperson slammed the US and US House speaker Nancy Pelosi for her recent visit to Taiwan. “Pelosi’s stunt is another bankruptcy of US politics, diplomacy and credibility. It proves the US to be the biggest saboteur of peace and the biggest troublemaker to regional stability,” Hua Chunying said.
  • South Korea has temporarily cancelled its flights to Taiwan as a result of the ongoing military drills conducted by China. According to local Korean media, Korean Air cancelled flights between Incheon and Taiwan on Friday and Saturday. The airline also delayed the schedule of Sunday’s flights by an hour. Similarly, Asiana shifted Thursday’s flight up by three hours and cancelled Friday’s flight to Taiwan.
  • US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Thursday he “hopes very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretense to increase its aggressive military action.” Addressing the Asean-US summit, Blinken said “many countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests, including Asean members and including China.”
  • The Biden administration postponed a routine test launch of an air force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing amid China’s show of force near Taiwan, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. US officials did not say how long the delay might last, but one said it might last 10 days, the report added.
  • The US has been watching the Chinese military exercises near Japan “very very closely,” said John Kirby, the US’s national security council coordinator for strategic communications. In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Kirby said: “We’ve been watching this very, very closely. It’s concerning. It’s not just concerning to us, but it’s concerning, of course, to the people of Taiwan. It’s concerning to to our allies in the region, especially Japan.”
  • Taiwan’s defence ministry said its troops fired flares late on Thursday to deter four drones that flew above the area of its Kinmen islands, which are just off the southeastern coast of China, Reuters reports.
  • China has sent 22 fighter jets across the “median line” running down the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, according to Taipei’s defence ministry. The Ministry of National Defense said “air defense missile systems” were deployed to track the jets and radio warnings were broadcast, according to an update on its website.
  • US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and South Korea’s national assembly speaker Kim Jin-pyo vowed on Thursday to support deterrence against North Korea and achieve its denuclearisation. “Both sides expressed concerns about the dire situation of North Korea’s growing threat,” they said in a joint statement after meeting in Seoul.

That’s it from me, Maya Yang, as I hand the blog over to my colleagues in Australia who will bring you the latest developments. Thank you.

The US said on Thursday that China’s launch of ballistic missiles around Taiwan was an overreaction to the visit of US House speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island.

“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, Reuters reports.

Kirby called China’s actions part of a “manufactured crisis” and added that Beijing was attempting to alter the regional power balance.

“It’s also a pretext to try to up the ante … and to actually try to set a new status quo, to get to a new normal where they think they can keep things at,” Kirby said.

“And my point coming out here today was making clear that we’re not going to accept a new status quo.

“The temperature’s pretty high,” Kirby said.

Tensions “can come down very easily by just having the Chinese stop these very aggressive military drills and flying missiles in and around the Taiwan Strait”, he said.

Kirby confirmed earlier reports that the Pentagon had delayed a scheduled test launch of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to avoid stoking tensions.

“We do not believe it is in our interests, Taiwan’s interests, the region’s interests, to allow tensions to escalate further,” Kirby said.

“As China engages in destabilizing military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead the behavior of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation.”

But he said the US navy’s USS Ronald Reagan carrier taskforce would remain in the area. According to a Chinese military-backed research group, South China Sea Probing Initiative, the Reagan was about 600 miles (1,000km) due east of Taiwan on Wednesday.

Kirby said the carrier group has been ordered by the Pentagon to “remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation.”

“We will not be deterred from operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific consistent with international law, as we have for decades, supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.

China has called the US “the biggest saboteur of peace”, as its foreign ministry spokesperson slammed the US and US House speaker Nancy Pelosi for her recent visit to Taiwan.

On Thursday, Hua Chunying fired off a series of tweets condemning the US and warning of Chinese retaliation.

“Pelosi’s stunt is another bankruptcy of US politics, diplomacy and credibility. It proves the US to be the biggest saboteur of peace and the biggest troublemaker to regional stability,” she said.

#Pelosi’s stunt is another bankruptcy of US politics, diplomacy and credibility. It proves the US to be the biggest saboteur of peace and the biggest troublemaker to regional stability.

— Hua Chunying 华春莹 (@SpokespersonCHN) August 4, 2022

“This incident is single-handedly orchestrated and provoked by the US and the cause, consequences and merits of the incident are crystal clear. China has done everything that is diplomatically possible to prevent this crisis which has been imposed on China,” she added.

Chunying warned that China will not “tolerate any act that harms our core interests” and that it will not “sit by and watch the US play the ‘Taiwan card’ to serve the US’s domestic politics and selfish interests of some politicians”.

Describing the recent flurry of military drills China has conducted in recent days, Chunying said that they were “necessary countermeasures that are defensive in nature which have gone through serious consideration and careful assessment”.

South Korea has temporarily cancelled its flights to Taiwan as a result of the ongoing military drills conducted by China.

According to local Korean media, Korean Air cancelled flights between Incheon and Taiwan on Friday and Saturday. The airline also delayed the schedule of Sunday’s flights by an hour.

Similarly, Asiana shifted Thursday’s flight up by three hours and cancelled Friday’s flight to Taiwan.

Singaporean carriers have also been avoiding areas that are impacted by China’s military drills and live firing exercises, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore on Thursday.

CAAS said that China released a notice to airmen on Tuesday that banned aircraft from flying into certain areas that are affected by the live firing exercises between Thursday and Sunday.

“Singapore carriers have taken note of the (notice) as part of their standard operating procedures and are avoiding the affected areas,” CAAS said.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Thursday he “hopes very much that Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretense to increase its aggressive military action.”

Addressing the ASEAN-US summit, Blinken said “many countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests, including ASEAN members and including China.”

“We’ve reached out to engage our PRC counterparts in recent days at every level of government to convey this message … Maintaining cross-stability is the interest all countries in the region, including all of our colleagues within ASEAN,” he said.

He added: “The US continues to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan strait. We oppose any unilateral efforts to change the status quo, especially by force.”

Antony Blinken in Phnom Penh on Thursday.
Antony Blinken in Phnom Penh on Thursday. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Biden postpones routine missile test launch, reports say

The Biden administration postponed a routine test launch of an air force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile to avoid escalating tensions with Beijing amid China’s show of force near Taiwan, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

US officials did not say how long the delay might last, but one said it might last 10 days, the report added.

The air force had planned on conducting the test launch from the Vandenberg base in California.

The test is usually conducted a few times a year to test the ICBM’s reliability.

“This is a long-planned test but it is being postponed to remove any misunderstandings given the PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] actions around Taiwan,” a defense official told Wall Street Journal.

In March, the Pentagon cancelled a flight test of a Minuteman III missile to avoid heightening tensions with Russia after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

US watching China military drills ‘very closely’

The US has been watching the Chinese military exercises near Japan “very very closely,” said John Kirby, the US’s National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Kirby said: “We’ve been watching this very, very closely. It’s concerning. It’s not just concerning to us, but it’s concerning, of course, to the people of Taiwan. It’s concerning to to our allies in the region, especially Japan.”

In recent days, China has been conducting its largest-ever military drills near Taiwan following a controversial visit from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled territory.

When asked whether Pelosi’s trip triggered China’s military drills, Kirby said, “The provocateur here is Beijing. They didn’t have to react this way to what is completely normal travel by congressional members to Taiwan…The Chinese are the ones who are escalating this.”

He also warned the risk of calculation of the drills, saying, “One of the things that’s troublesome about exercises like this or missile launches like this is the risk of calculation, the risk of a mistake that could actually lead to some sort of conflict.”

John Kirby in the Brady room on Tuesday.
John Kirby in the Brady room on Tuesday. Photograph: Al Drago/EPA

Taiwan’s defence ministry said its troops fired flares late on Thursday to deter four drones that flew above the area of its Kinmen islands, which are just off the southeastern coast of China, Reuters reports.

Taiwan has been on alert as China conducts a series of military exercises in response to a visit to the island this week by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Commuters wearing face masks ride on a subway train as a TV screen showing China’s CCTV reporting news of military conducting missiles launch exercises, in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022.
Commuters wearing face masks ride on a subway train as a TV screen showing China’s CCTV reporting news of military conducting missiles launch exercises, in Beijing, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

China has sent 22 fighter jets across the “median line” running down the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, according to Taipei’s defence ministry.

The Ministry of National Defense said “air defense missile systems” were deployed to track the jets and radio warnings were broadcast, according to an update on its website.

The median line is an unofficial but largely adhered to border that runs down the middle of the Taiwan Strait, separating China and Taiwan. It is rare for military jets to cross it.

Over the last two years, Beijing has increased its military incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

The ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace but includes a far greater area that overlaps with part of China’s own air defence identification zone and even includes some of the mainland.

The vast majority of China’s ADIZ flights occur off the southwestern edge of Taiwan. However, in recent days, there has been a significant increase in the number of median line incursions after Beijing announced massive military drills to protest US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island territory this week.

Of the 49 incursions Taiwan reported on Wednesday and Thursday, 44 involved Chinese aircraft crossing the median line.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and South Korea’s National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo vowed on Thursday to support deterrence against North Korea and achieve its denuclearisation.

“Both sides expressed concerns about the dire situation of North Korea’s growing threat,” they said in a joint statement after meeting in Seoul.

“We agreed to support the efforts of the two governments to achieve practical denuclearisation and peace through international cooperation and diplomatic dialogue, based on the strong and extended deterrence against the North.”

Pelosi added that she and Kim talked about ways to boost cooperation on regional security and economic and climate issues.

Pelosi arrived in South Korea on Wednesday night after her stop in self-ruled Taiwan which infuriated China.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol did not meet Pelosi due to his scheduled vacation this week. Nevertheless, he held a 40-minute phone call with her where he promised close cooperation with the US Congress, Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo said.

South Korean media speculated that Yoon could be shunning meeting Pelosi in person to avoid antagonising China, after her visit to Taiwan outraged Beijing, which claims the self-governed island as its own.

Summary of the day so far …

  • Taiwan’s military has said it is “preparing for war without seeking war” after China’s military began an unprecedented four days of live-fire exercises close to Taiwan’s shores, in reaction to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
  • Taiwan’s defence ministry said the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had launched 11 Dongfeng series ballistic missiles into the waters north-east and south-west of Taiwan’s main island. Taiwan activated its defences as soon as the first missile was detected at 13.56 local time.
  • Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it “strongly condemns” Beijing for “following the example of North Korea in willfully test-firing missiles into waters near other countries”. Taipei also called on the international community to “condemn China’s military coercion”.
  • The People’s Liberation Army’s eastern theatre command announced it had conducted “long-range live-fire shooting training” in the Taiwan strait, including “precision strikes on specific areas in the eastern part”. It said “expected results had been achieved” but did not clarify what that meant.
  • A Taiwanese official said about ten Chinese navy ships briefly crossed the median line – the informal line dividing Chinese and Taiwanese territorial waters – before they were “driven away” by Taiwanese navy boats. “They sneaked in, and were driven away by us,” they said.
  • Taiwan also said multiple Chinese air force planes briefly crossed the median line several times on Thursday morning, forcing Taiwan to scramble jets and deploy missile systems to track their movement.
  • Japan’s defence ministry said five missiles launched by China during the drills had fallen into its exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles – or 370km -from Japan’s coast. Tokyo has protested to Beijing.
  • Video footage purporting to show the launch of several missiles was shown on Chinese state television. The footage has not been independently verified.

China launches missiles into Taiwan strait after Pelosi visit – video

  • Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, has said on social media that “China’s irresponsible and dangerous behaviour has jeopardised regional peace. Taiwan will resolutely defend ourselves.”
  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, on a visit to Cambodia, said the US opposes any unilateral efforts to change the Taiwan status quo, especially by force, and its policy on Taiwan has not changed
  • Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said China had the sovereign right to hold major military drills around Taiwan, and accused the US of artificially fuelling tensions in the region, calling Pelosi’s visit “an unnecessary provocation.”
  • The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, earlier described US house speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan as a “complete farce” at meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Cambodia. “The irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed. Those who offend China will surely be punished,” he said.
  • The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said China had no reason to overreact after Pelosi visited, saying “The US and other Nato allies have paid visits with high-ranking officials to Taiwan regularly over the years, and therefore this is no reason for China to overreact.”
  • Notices of the exercises identified six areas encircling Taiwan, with warnings for all ships and aircraft to “not enter the relevant sea areas and airspace”. Some of the zones overlap with Taiwan’s territorial waters, and are near key shipping ports.

Map showing Taiwan and surrounding area

Nato’s Stoltenberg: Pelosi visit ‘no reason for China to overreact’

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has said that China has no reason to overreact after US politician Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. Reuters quotes his saying:

The visit of Nancy Pelosi is no reason for China to overreact or threaten Taiwan or to use threatening rhetoric. The US and other Nato allies have paid visits with high-ranking officials to Taiwan regularly over the years, and therefore this is no reason for China to overreact

Tokyo protests to China after it says five missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone

Vincent Ni

Vincent Ni

Japan’s defence ministry said five missiles launched by China during its drills near Taiwan had fallen into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles – or 370km – from Japan’s coast. Tokyo has protested to Beijing.

Taiwan’s defence ministry confirmed that 11 Chinese Dongfeng ballistic missiles had been fired in waters around the island today.

The last time that happened was in 1996. Taiwan officials said the drills violated UN rules, invaded its space and threatened free air and sea navigation.

In response to Taiwan’s protests against the military drills, Reuters reports that China’s Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office said: “Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, external forces, is reasonable, lawful.”

Here are a couple of images sent to us from Beijing today, where people have been going about their day-to-day business while footage of China’s military exercises in the Taiwan Straits plays on TV screens around them.

People walking past a screen broadcasting a news report in Beijing.
People walking past a screen broadcasting a news report in Beijing. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
Commuters wearing face masks ride on a subway train as a TV screen shows China’s CCTV footage.
State television footage of China’s missile launches is aired on a subway train. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

Taiwan representative to US: China’s ‘irresponsible and dangerous behaviour has jeopardised regional peace’

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US, Hsiao Bi-khim, has said on social media that “China’s irresponsible and dangerous behaviour has jeopardised regional peace. Taiwan will resolutely defend ourselves.”

China’s irresponsible and dangerous behavior has jeopardized regional peace. Taiwan will resolutely defend ourselves. https://t.co/SuZzxQtUXh

— Bi-khim Hsiao 蕭美琴 (@bikhim) August 4, 2022

She shared a post from Taiwan’s ministry of defence in which it confirmed that its defence systems had been activated once it had detected the firing of the first Chinese missiles at 1.56pm local time. China launched several Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters around the north-east and south-west coasts of Taiwan early today.

The US and Taiwan don’t officially have diplomatic relations, but Hsiao Bi-khim acts as Taiwan’s representative.





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