China launches ballistic missiles during Taiwan drills

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    1. Taiwan on alert for ‘psychological warfare’

      Taiwan will be on alert for “infiltration and psychological warfare”, Reuters quoted the island’s Mainland Affairs Council as saying on Thursday.

      The council said it thinks China is attempting to isolate Taiwan and force the international community to stop supporting the island, said the report.

      It also called for China’s Communist Party to “immediately stop intimidating Taiwan”.

    2. Flights to and from Taiwan cancelled

      Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport said on Wednesday that more than 50 international flights have been cancelled on Thursday due to China’s live-fire drills.

      These included 26 arriving flights to Taiwan, and 25 flights departing from Taoyuan airport.

      Korean Air has also cancelled flights from Incheon to Taiwan on Friday and Saturday, while Asiana Airlines cancelled its direct flight to Taiwan on Friday and will monitor the situation, South Korean media reported on Thursday.

      A woman walks towards the departure gate at Taoyuan International Airport on August 4
      Image caption: At least 51 flights departing and arriving at Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday have been cancelled
  1. What’s the latest?

    If you’re just joining us now, here’s what you need to know to bring you up to speed:

    • China has launched several Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters around Taiwan’s northeast and southwest coasts
    • Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it had activated related defence systems in response to the launch, according to a Reuters report
    • China’s live fire drills began at 12:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and are set to end on Sunday
    • Our correspondent in Taipei says life there is going on as normal, and people are calm but concerned
    • The US Navy is sending an aircraft carrier towards Taiwan, in what it says are “normal, scheduled operations” in the Philippine Sea
  2. How China is modernising its armed forces

    China is building up its armed forces at a rapid pace, most recently with the launch of a new aircraft carrier.

    Many Western observers now believe a profound shift in the global balance of military power is under way.

    President Xi Jinping has ordered China’s armed forces to modernise by 2035. They should, he says, become a “world-class” military power, capable of “fighting and winning wars” by 2049.

    Read more

  3. USS Ronald Reagan and strike group under way

    The US Navy says the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier is heading towards a stretch of ocean that includes waters southeast of Taiwan.

    “USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are under way in the Philippine Sea continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a navy spokesperson said on Thursday.

    US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is seen during 2018 visit to Hong Kong
    Image caption: The US Navy is sending the USS Ronald Reagan carrier towards Taiwan as China conducts drills
  4. China confirms missile launch: State media

    The Rocket Force of the Eastern Theater Command carried out a conventional missile launch off the eastern coast of Taiwan, Chinese state media has said, adding that it hit the target with precision.

  5. Fears China could launch a missile over Taiwan

    Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

    BBC News, Taiwan

    Analysts say one scenario is that China is preparing to fire ballistic missiles – to splash down in the exclusion zones, very close to Taiwan’s coast.

    That is what China did back in 1996, the last time tensions between Beijing and Taipei got this bad. But this time the exclusion zones are much closer to Taiwan.

    There is also concern over the fact that one of the exclusion zones is to the east of Taiwan in the Pacific ocean.

    So analysts say it’s possible China is preparing to fly a missile over the top of Taiwan – to splash down in that zone. That would be considered a major violation of Taiwan’s airspace.

    A US aircraft that can track ballistic missiles in flight has taken off from Japan and is heading towards Taiwan.

  6. BREAKINGChina launched several ballistic missiles – Reuters

    China launched several Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters around Taiwan’s northeast and southwest coasts, starting from 13:56 local time (06:56 GMT), according to Reuters news agency, which cites a source in Taiwan’s defence ministry.

    Dongfeng missiles are those operated by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

    Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said it had activated related defence systems in response to the launch, adding that it condemned China’s irrational action, which destroyed regional peace, said Reuters.

  7. BREAKINGTwo Chinese missiles launched – Reuters

    Two Chinese missiles were launched and flew into the drill zones announced by China, off Taiwan’s northeastern coast, according to an Internal Taiwan Government Report, said news wire Reuters.

    We’ll bring you more information on this when we have it.

  8. President Tsai thanks G7

    President Tsai

    Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the G7 nations for supporting regional peace and stability.

    Her comments come after the group called on China to resolve tensions in the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner.

    In a tweet, Tsai also wrote: “Taiwan is committed to defending the status quo and our hard-earned democracy.

    “We’ll work with like-minded partners to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

  9. Taiwan is calm but concerned

    Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

    BBC News, Taiwan

    The front page of the Taipei Times

    Life is going on as normal in Taipei – people here are calm but concerned.

    The main impact of the Chinese military drills is that Taiwan is now having to reroute a huge number of international flights and ships coming in and out of Taiwanese ports in the north and the south.

    They have to be rerouted around the six exclusion zones China has declared around Taiwan.

    This is expected to last for four days – so it’s a major headache for Taiwan to deal with.

    Taipei has called it a breach of UN conventions and international law – and has condemned China for declaring exclusion zones.

    The Taiwanese government has also warned local companies that they need to be prepared for a large number of cyber attacks originating in China in the next few days.

    So Taiwan is braced for the Chinese drills – it’s on high alert and observant.

    It’s watching what Taiwan is doing but not reacting – yet.

  10. What are the different scenarios we could see?

    If China starts operating closer and closer to Taiwan, it is possible that we could see the situation escalate, says Bonnie Lin, Director at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

    “If China decides to fly aeroplanes over Taiwan’s airspace, there is a chance Taiwan might try to intercept them. And what happens in the air could be a mid air collision, a lot of different scenarios playing out,” she told the BBC.

    “I suspect that whatever China is doing in these drills [over] the next couple of days that it won’t be the first and only time China does them. China is trying to normalise a pattern of more aggressive behaviour against Taiwan.

  11. What has happened so far?

    • The live fire drills began at 12:00 local time (04:00 GMT)
    • China has declared six exclusion zones in locations encircling the island
    • Three of the zones come within 20km (12 miles) of the island
    • The exercises will include long-range live ammunition shooting, it says
    • Beijing says shipping and flights should avoid these areas
    • The drills are due to last until Sunday
    • The Chinese military’s eastern command says it has already carried out long range firing in the eastern part of the Taiwan Strait separating the island from the mainland
    • Reuters reports that Chinese planes and vessels also briefly crossed the median line – the informal dividing line – in the strait
  12. What’s the context to all this?

    Pelosi held a landmark meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai

    China’s biggest-ever military exercises in the seas around Taiwan follow US politician Nancy Pelosi’s visit.

    Pelosi, the most senior US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, made the trip as part of a wider Asian tour.

    China vehemently opposed the trip and called it a violation of its sovereignty because it claims the self-governing island as its own territory and has vowed to unify it with the mainland, by force if necessary.

    Beijing had warned of serious consequences if Pelosi did visit.

    It later announced what it called “necessary and just” military drills in seas around Taiwan and its defence ministry has admitted that some exercises may breach Taiwan’s territorial waters.

  13. China military says it has been firing in Taiwan Strait

    The Eastern Military Command of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said that it carried out long-range firing in precision strikes at specific areas in the eastern part of the Taiwan Strait at about 13:00 local time (05:00 GMT).

    The strikes, part of planned exercises, achieved the “expected results”, it said.

  14. Taiwan ‘preparing for war without seeking war’

    The Taiwan military says China is using the unprecedented drills to try to change the status quo with the drills.

    “We seek no escalation, but we don’t stand down when it comes to security and sovereignty,” the defence ministry said in a tweet.

    In a separate statement, the defence ministry said it would “uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war”, and would avoid causing disputes.

    On Thursday, the foreign ministry also urged the global community to call on China to halt military activity.

  15. Military helicopters fly past Chinese mainland

    Here are some images from earlier on Thursday, showing Chinese military helicopters flying past China’s Pingtan island ahead of military drills.

    Pingtan island lies across the Taiwan Strait form Taiwan and is one of mainland China’s closest points to the island.

    Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island,
    Tourists look on as a Chinese military helicopter flies past Pingtan island
  16. China FM calls Pelosi visit manic and highly irrational

    Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reiterated Beijing’s stance towards US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan – calling it “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational”.

    Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Foreign Ministers meeting in Cambodia, he said China had made the utmost diplomatic effort to avert a crisis, but that it would never allow its core interests to be hurt.

    But others at the same meeting urged restraint.

    “There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for legislators from our countries to travel internationally,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

    “We hope de-escalation happens… and normalcy returns to the Taiwan Strait,” Kung Phoak, Cambodia’s deputy foreign minister told reporters.

  17. Ball is in Xi’s court – this is his response

    Stephen McDonell

    BBC News, China correspondent

    Not so long ago, Beijing’s plan with Taiwan involved engagement. Young people from the mainland were backpacking around the self-ruled island, and businesses from Taiwan were popping up all over China.

    However, the approach under Chinese President Xi Jinping has become much more belligerent, with ever more pressure being applied on Taipei.

    Those with more militaristic tendencies in the upper echelons of power in Beijing must have secretly welcomed the visit by Ms Pelosi. It has provided an ideal excuse to ramp up the war games around Taiwan in preparation for what they see as the inevitable day when it will be seized by force.

    For decades, China’s Communist Party-controlled media has been churning out similar rhetoric on Taiwan, but the idea of a war to reclaim it never felt any closer.

    That’s not the case now./BBC