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A top Taiwanese defence ministry official was found dead on Saturday as the self-governing territory accused China of carrying out a “simulated attack” with the country’s warships and planes conducting missions in the Taiwan Strait.
Ou Yang Li-hsing, the deputy head of the Taiwan defence ministry’s research and development unit, died from a heart attack on Saturday in his hotel room, reported state media.
The room had no signs of ‘intrusion’ and his family had a history of heart disease, said the official Central News Agency.
Meanwhile, the defence ministry tweeted on Saturday that multiple Chinese craft conducted missions in the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the median line which is an unofficial buffer separating the two sides in what it sees as a “possible simulated attack.”
The developments come as Beijing continues its military offensive as it fired multiple ballistic missiles in the direction of Taiwan, four of which flew directly over the capital city Taipei.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken slammed China’s military exercises, saying there was no justification for Beijing’s “extreme disproportionate and escalatory” response.
The statement came as Ms Pelosi reasserted America’s support for Taiwan, saying that China will not be able to isolate the island by preventing US officials from travelling there.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence has accused China of firing 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of the island as part of aggressive military drills intended as an intimidating show of force.
Tensions in the region have escalated considerably following a visit to Taiwan this week by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, third in line to the presidency and the most senior American politician to visit the country in 25 years.
Beijing urged Ms Pelosi not to pay her respects to a territory that has its own democratic political system, constitution and military but which China considers its own, warning that the trip amounted to “playing with fire”.
After she brushed off those threats and arrived in Taipei, the superpower ordered five days of live-fire exercises and warned that regional conflict could become inevitable, ratcheting up tensions with the self-governing republic to their highest levels since 1996.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said its armed forces had used early warning, surveillance and reconnaissance systems to monitor the Dongfeng (or, DF) rockets and condemned China’s “irrational actions undermining regional peace”.
Read more:
Rockets fired near Taiwanese waters as Nancy Pelosi visit ignites regional tensions
China has launched five ballistic missiles into the waters that Japan considers to be its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Japanese defence minister says, adding that this is the first time such an incident has ever taken place.
Nobuo Kishi said Japan had lodged a protest via diplomatic routes.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is due to travel to Japan after visiting Taiwan and South Korea.
It was her trip to Taiwan that infuriated China and led Beijing to launch military exercises around Taiwan, in what could be the biggest of their kind since the mid-1990s.
The five missiles that landed in Japanese territory were from those exercises, the Japan Times said.
“This is a grave issue that concerns our country’s national security and people’s safety,” Kishi told a hastily organised news conference.
Read more:
China has launched five ballistic missiles into the waters that Japan considers to be its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Japanese defence minister says, adding that this is the first time such an incident has ever taken place.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense issued a statement on Thursday claiming that China had fired nine missiles, including five that landed in its economic exclusion zone. Four others landed outside its waters.
The Japanese government has condemned China’s actions, which come as a result of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for the Kremlin, told reporters that China’s reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan — which included holding military drills and lobbing missiles around the Taiwan Strait — was within the nation’s rights.
“This is China’s sovereign right,” Mr Peskov said. “The tension in the region and around Taiwan was provoked… by the visit of Nancy Pelosi. It was an absolutely unnecessary visit and an unnecessary provocation.”
The Japanese Ministry of Defense released a map showing what it believes are the trajectories of nine Chinese missiles fired in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Five of the missiles landed in Japan’s economic exclusion zone, but the map also suggests that several missiles were shot over the island of Taiwan, and more specifically, over its capital city, Taipei.
Both Taiwan and Japan have denounced China’s reaction to Ms Pelosi’s visit.
Defense officials in Taipei, Taiwan have accused China of sending jets over the “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial border between China and Taiwan.
On Wednesday, 22 jets buzzed over the line, and another 22 did so on Thursday.
Defense officials in Taipei said they planned to ramp up their air defenses in response.
National Security Council spokesman Admiral John Kirby told reporters on Thursday that the US was monitoring China’s live-fire military drills in the Taiwan Strait “very, very closely.”
China began holding the live-fire drills as a way to voice its displeasure with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Mr Kirby laid the blame for the heightened tensions at China’s feet.
“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 said.
Officials in Taiwan have warned citizens not to travel to China unless “absolutely necessary” after Taiwanese pro-democracy advocate Yang Chih-yuan was arrested by Chinese authorities for “sepratism.”
He was arrested and charged on 3 August.
Taiwanese officials fear other citizens may be targetted under similar charges if they visit China.
The Biden administration has reportedly delayed a routine test launch of a ballistic missile in California in order to avoid escalating tensions with China.
Beijing has been holding live fire drills in the Taiwan Strait in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
A defense official spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the delay.
“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,” the official told the paper.
Officials said the delay could last for up to 10 days.
Russian politician and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said he thought it would have been “good” if China had shot down House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plane ahead of her visit to Taiwan.
Aleksey Zhuravlyov, a Duma member and the head of the nationalist Rodina party, appeared on Russian state TV, where he said that shooting down Ms Pelosi’s plane would have opened a “second front” for Mr Putin’s war efforts.
“It would be important for us if this plane was either squeezed out [intercepted] or was shot down,” he said. “For us, opening a second front is good. No matter how the situation with the island [Taiwan] develops, we will anyway win. The whole world understands that the only country which can resist the U.S. is Russia.”
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A Chinese military jet flies over Pingtan island, one of mainland China’s closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province on 5 August 2022
AFP via Getty Images
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