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China Intensifies Military Drills, Taiwan Invasion Looks “Increasingly Plausible”

According to a New York Times' report, military commanders and analysts feel that an invasion is "increasingly plausible".

China missile
In this image taken from video footage run by China’s CCTV, a projectile is launched from an unspecified location in China, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP/PTI)

New Delhi: Tensions escalated in the Taiwan strait on Thursday as more Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence zone. With China, angered by US lawmaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, intensifying its drills against Taiwan, there is a rising belief that Beijing could carry out an invasion.

According to a New York Times‘ report, military commanders and analysts feel that an invasion is “increasingly plausible”.

In the latest reports, the Taiwanese Defence Ministry said that 22 Chinese military aircraft entered the island’s air defence zone on Thursday, in third such incident since Pelosi’s trip to Taipei. “22 PLA aircraft (J-118, SU-3012 and J-16*2) entered the surrounding area of R.O.C. on August 4, 2022,” Taiwan Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Taiwan strongly condemned China’s “North Korea” style missile firing into waters near the self-governed island after China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched multiple Dongfeng (DF) ballistic missiles at the island’s Northeast and Southwest waters.

“On August 4, China launched multiple ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of Taiwan, threatening Taiwan’s national security, escalating regional tensions, and affecting regular international traffic and trade,” the Taiwan foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) strongly condemns the Chinese government for following the example of North Korea in willfully test-firing missiles into waters near other countries and demands that China exercise self-restraint,” it added.

China, which is carrying out live-fire drills around Taiwan, has started deploying its aircraft carrier group and a nuclear submarine in the Taiwan Strait.

The PLA drills from Thursday to Sunday around the island of Taiwan will feature its first aircraft carrier group deterrence exercise, which will establish a maritime multidimensional combat system, the state-run Global Times quoted Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the PLA.

“Normally, a nuclear-powered submarine will accompany an aircraft carrier group in its mission,” Zhang said. The expert confirmed to the daily that at least one nuclear-powered submarine has been deployed.

While the drills are organised by the PLA Eastern Theatre Command, forces from other theatre commands also participated in the exercises, Zhang said. “This reflects the high interoperability between PLA’s various theatre commands,” he said.

As Taiwan struggles to figure out how to respond to the Chinese drones, the South China Morning Post quoted military observers saying an attempt to shoot them down would increase the risk of a conflict with Beijing.

On the other hand, they are believed to have been used to gather intelligence about Taiwan’s military strength and preparedness on the island, which is just 3.2 kilometres from the mainland city of Xiamen, and a failure to act could encourage more operations in future, the report said.

Live-fire drills began today in at least six identified zones around the island, that regard its own and threaten to take over. The Chinese PLA organized joint combat training exercises near Taiwan waters and airspace, Xinhua news agency reported.

Chinese Ballistic Missiles Land On EEZ In Okinawa

The Japanese government on Thursday protested against firing of five ballistic missiles by the Chinese military in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), terming it an “extremely coercive” move. The Chinese missiles launched today fell in an area located southwest of Hateruma Island in the southern prefecture of Okinawa.

Tokyo has asked Beijing to immediately stop the military drills, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. “This is a grave issue that concerns our country’s national security and the safety of the people,” said Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi.

The Fumio Kishida government also lodged a diplomatic protest with the Chinese government. The Japanese government also slammed Chinese drills near Senkaku Islands, saying that the area overlaps with the EEZ.

(With ANI inputs)