By Jake Chung/Editor, with Bloomberg and CNA
China held live-fire drills off Taiwan proper for the third day in a row yesterday, with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Military Zone Command saying its drills focused on capabilities surface bombardment and sea assault.
China has arbitrarily established restricted airspace zones around Taiwan proper, unilaterally changing the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait and disrupting peace in the Asia-Pacific region, the National Defense Ministry said.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, it had tracked about 20 aircraft and 14 ships operating near the center line of the strait, the ministry said.
Photo: Military News Agency
About 10 Sukhoi Su-30s and four J-11s crossed the median line, approaching Taiwan from China’s Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, while four J-16s, a Y-8 transport plane and a refueling Y-20 flew in the air defense of Taiwan. southwest identification area and returned by the same route, the ministry said.
A photograph released yesterday by the PLA showed a Chinese navy ship near the east coast of Taiwan facing a Taiwanese Knox-class frigate. Another photo showed Chinese planes approaching Taiwan’s airspace, taking pictures of the Taiwanese coast and the central mountain range.
The Chinese state-run Global Times said the photos showed the closest approaches Chinese forces have ever seen in Taiwan.
All Chinese warships and planes that crossed the median line were warned and immediately turned back to the other side, the ministry said, adding that it suspected they were simulating attacks on Taiwan.
The Air Force said yesterday it was constantly monitoring Chinese movements, adding that Patriot-III missile systems were ready to defend the country’s airspace.
In Taipei, the military news agency released photos taken by the air force showing the stance of its air defense and missile command.
A major surnamed Chou (周) said the command had completed battle preparations, as instructed by his superiors, and was ready for any circumstances.
Taiwan tracks down enemy planes and missiles, and its soldiers are resolute and ready to defend the nation, Chou said.
Meanwhile, the drills have hampered shipping, with commercial ships reconsidering loading cargo at Taiwanese ports, potentially creating delays for electronics shipments.
Ship owners, worried about the possibility of missile attacks, choose to idle ships and burn extra fuel until the drills are over.
Vessels are dropping anchor at sea to avoid a drilling area off Kaohsiung, said Jayendu Krishna, deputy director at consultancy Drewry Maritime Advisors.
The area, one of the largest areas where China holds exercises, is 15 nautical miles (27.78 km) from the entrance to Kaohsiung Port.
The strait is a key route for supply chains, with nearly half of the world’s container fleet passing through it this year.
As ships continue to cross the strait during military exercises, they sail around the exercise areas.
The Maritime and Ports Bureau told ships on Thursday to avoid areas east of Taiwan in which China said it would hold drills until tomorrow.
China is also practicing weapons firing in the southern part of the Yellow Sea, the Maritime Security Administration in east China’s Lianyungang city said.
The exercises would last 10 days until August 15, he said.
In Taipei, the military said yesterday that its units on Kinmen County’s main island and its neighboring smaller islands detected four unmanned aerial vehicles flying near the coast.
The four drones were seen hovering over restricted sea areas off the main island, Lieyu Island (烈嶼) and Beiding Islet (北碇島), the Kinmen Defense Command said. of the Army.
Taiwan fired flares to repel the drones, which would be operated by the PLA, said Major General Chang Jung-shun (張榮順) of the Kinmen Defense Command.
Similar drones were also detected flying over Liang Island (亮島) and Dongyin Island (東引) in Lienchiang County, the army command headquarters said.
Drones had been spotted near the main island of Kinmen and the islet of Beiding on Wednesday evening, ahead of the Chinese drills.
Additional reporting by Wu Su-wei
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