Taiwan says Chinese planes, ships carry out attack simulation drill as PLA forces get close to island

TAIPEI/BEIJING (BLOOMBERG, AFP, REUTERS) – China’s aircraft and warships rehearsed an attack on Taiwan on Saturday (Aug 6), island officials said,
as Chinese forces appeared to be getting close to Taiwan’s shores.

China doubled down on the exercises, held in retaliation for a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that also saw Beijing halt talks on security and other issues with the United States.

In a bid to show just how close China’s forces have been getting to Taiwan’s shores, Beijing’s military overnight released a video of an air force pilot filming the island’s coastline and mountains from his cockpit.

Chinese state media have also released a photo of what appears to be the closest a PLA vessel has ever ventured to the Taiwanese coast. State news agency Xinhua released the image of a soldier monitoring the ROCS Lan Yang, a Chi Yang-class frigate.

The Chinese exercises – centred on six locations around the island – are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday.  

Taiwan’s defence ministry said multiple Chinese ships and planes conducted missions in the Taiwan Strait, with some crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, in what the Taiwan military described as a simulation attack on the island.  

Chinese warships and aircraft continued to “press” into the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Saturday afternoon, a person familiar with security planning said.  

Off Taiwan’s east coast and close to Japanese islands, Chinese warships and drones simulated attacks on US and Japanese warships, the person added.  

Taiwan’s army broadcast a warning and deployed air reconnaissance patrol forces and ships to monitor while putting shore-based missiles on stand-by.  

Its defence ministry also said it fired flares late on Friday to warn away seven drones flying over its Kinmen islands and unidentified aircraft flying over its Matsu islands. Both island groups are close to mainland
China’s coast.  

On Friday, China’s military said it conducted air and sea drills to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan to test is forces’ “joint combat capabilities”.

“In the waters around Taiwan island, more than 10 destroyers and escorts of the Eastern Theatre Command navy approached from different directions to carry out containment operations,” the Chinese army’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on Friday’s drills.

China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, has reported that Chinese missiles have flown directly over Taiwan during the exercises – a major escalation if confirmed.

But Taipei has remained defiant, insisting it would not be cowed by its “evil neighbour” as it reported on Friday that 68 Chinese warplanes and 13 warships had crossed the “median line” that runs down the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday that it had fired flares late on Friday to warn away seven drones flying over its outlying Kinmen Islands and to warn unidentified aircraft flying over its outlying Matsu Islands.

The ministry said troops were on high alert in both areas, which lie just off the coast of mainland China.