China unleashes its power: Worldwide outrage as ballistic missiles fly over Taiwan prompting Japan to demand ‘immediate’ halt to military drills or risk destroying peace in the region
- Five high-powered missiles fired from the mainland flew over Taiwan yesterday
- The test-firing by Beijing has triggered widespread international condemnation
- It raised fears that a further miscalculation by China could spark war
China ratcheted up its military intimidation of Taiwan yesterday by firing ballistic missiles which flew over the island and landed in Japanese waters.
As promised by the ruling Communist Party, four days of war games encircling Taiwan began just before 2pm (local time) with wave after wave of rocket launches, while Chinese jets took to the skies and ten warships patrolled the sea.
Five high-powered missiles fired from the mainland flew over Taiwan, Japanese officials said, and plunged into the sea south of Hateruma Island, part of Okinawa. The series of islands are part of Japan’s ‘exclusive economic zone’, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coast.
China ratcheted up its military intimidation of Taiwan yesterday by firing ballistic missiles which flew over the island and landed in Japanese waters
It prompted an immediate diplomatic protest by Tokyo and raised fears a further miscalculation by China could spark war. Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi said: ‘This is a grave issue that concerns our country’s national security and people’s safety.’
Foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi called for an ‘immediate stop’ to the military drills, adding: ‘China’s actions this time have a serious impact on the peace and stability of the region and the international community.’
And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned: ‘Countries around the world believe escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.
‘I hope very much Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity.’
But the concerns were seemingly dismissed by the Chinese government last night as the People’s Liberation Army resumed its dangerous drills.
Taiwan held its breath for two hours yesterday as China flexed its military muscle, with the firing of 11 ballistic missiles being backed up by an array of smaller, shorter-range rockets which landed north-east and south-west of the island
Four of Beijing’s vast fleet of unmanned drones were spotted over Taiwan’s Kinmen Islands, near the Chinese mainland, prompting troops to fire flares in a bid to alter their course.
In another dramatic move, China announced it intended to extent the war games by a day, meaning the missile assaults could continue until Monday.
Tensions in the South China Sea remained high last night, with US Navy vessels patrolling international waters. US missile-tracking spy planes have been sent to watch over the drills.
Taiwan held its breath for two hours yesterday as China flexed its military muscle, with the firing of 11 ballistic missiles being backed up by an array of smaller, shorter-range rockets which landed north-east and south-west of the island. Beijing’s state media claimed more than 100 planes, including fighter jets and bombers, and ten warships had joined in the exercises.
Taipei would not confirm if missiles had flown directly over the island but Taiwanese politician Wang Ting-yu said there would be dreadful consequences for any military attack.
‘We have to make our enemy know: we are prepared. If you dare to do something stupid, you will fail and the price is too high. Taiwan’s sincere hope is that we can keep the peace and our sovereignty for ever.
‘And we hope China can become a reasonable and more civilised country. But a country cannot survive on dreams.’
For as long as the exercises continue, Beijing will effectively be blockading its neighbour in what analysts fear could be a practice for a full-scale invasion.
The Global Times, the English-language state-run newspaper in China, openly described the activities as a ‘rehearse reunification operation’.
The war games also threaten to disrupt one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Nearly half the world’s ships passed through the narrow Taiwan Strait – which separates the island from China – in the first seven months of this year. Chinese president Xi Jinping has pledged to reunify Taiwan and mainland China, who split in 1949 after a civil war.
The military exercises he has sanctioned were backed up by a barrage of rhetoric from Beijing officials last night. Military expert Song Zhongping said the ‘comprehensive and highly targeted’ operations showed China’s ‘determination of resolving Taiwan question once and for all’.