A projectile is launched from an unspecified location in China, Aug. 4, 2022, in this image taken from video footage run by China's CCTV. CCTV via APKEELUNG, Taiwan - China conducted precision missile strikes Thursday in waters off Taiwan's coast as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades after a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China earlier announced that military exercises were underway in six areas surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
Five of the missiles fired by China landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan's main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said Japan protested the missile landings to China as serious threats to Japan's national security and the safety of the Japanese people. The Defense Ministry of Japan speculated that four missiles flew over Taipei, the capital city, crossing the mainland, according to a statement on its embassy in D.C. posted on Twitter. Taiwan's Defense Ministry denies the claim, saying that the flight path is outside the atmosphere and is not harmful to the vast area on the ground it flies over. The drills were prompted by a visit to Taiwan this week by Pelosi and are intended to advertise China's threat to attack the self-governing island republic. China has long threatened military retaliation over its moves to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, as well as its moves to solidify its de facto independence with the support of key allies including the U.S.
China fired long-range explosives, the Eastern Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army, the ruling Communist Party's military wing, said in a statement. It also carried out multiple conventional missile launches in three different areas of the eastern waters off Taiwan. An accompanying graphic on the state broadcaster CCTV showed that occurred in the north, east and south.
The Eastern Theater said in its announcement that all missiles hit the target accurately. No more details were given.
John Kirby, a U.S. National Security Council spokesman, condemned the launches and military activity surrounding Taiwan.
He said Thursday that China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. We will not be enticed from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific consistent with international law, as we have for decades supported Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific. Taiwan's defense ministry said it had followed the firing of Chinese Dongfeng series missiles beginning around 1: 56 p.m. Thursday. In a statement, it used various early warning systems to track missile launches. It later said it counted 11 Dongfeng missiles in the waters in the north, east and south.
The ministry also found long-distance rockets and ammunition firing in outlying islands in Dongyin, Wuqiu and Matsu.
Taiwanie President Tsai Ing-wen criticized the drills in a public video address, saying China destroyed the status quo and violated our sovereignty with its irresponsible actions. She urged China to be reasonable and restrained. She said that we are calm and not impulsive, we are reasonable and not provocative. We will be firm and not back down. Tsai said Taiwan is in communication with its allies to make sure things don't escalate further.