A security guard stands near a sculpture of the Chinese Communist Party flag at the Museum of the Communist Party of China on May 26, 2022 in Beijing. AP Photo BEIJING -- China said it conducted precision missile strikes in the Taiwan Strait on Thursday as part of military exercises that have raised tensions in the region to their highest level in decades.
China previously announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were underway in six zones surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
China has threatened military retaliation over moves by the island to solidify its de-facto independence with the support of key allies including the U.S., along with its moves to isolate Taiwan diplomatically.
Long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes were carried out on selected targets in the eastern region of the Taiwan Strait, the Eastern Theater Command of the People s Liberation Army, the ruling Communist Party's military wing, said in a statement on its social media platform.
The expected outcome was achieved, it added. There were no other details.
Taiwan s Defense Ministry said it had followed the firing of Chinese Dongfeng series missiles beginning around 1: 56 p.m. on Thursday. In a statement, it used various early warning systems to track missile launches, which were directed at waters northeast and southwest of Taiwan.
Earlier in the day, Taiwan's Defense ministry said its forces were on alert and monitoring the situation while trying to avoid escalating tensions. A number of civil defense drills have been held and notices have been placed on designated air raid shelters.
China s irrational behavior is intended to alter the status quo and disrupt regional peace and stability, the ministry said.
The statement said that the three service branches will combine efforts with all the people to safeguard national security and territorial integrity while adapting to the situation as it develops.
China s official Xinhua News Agency said the exercises were joint operations that focused on blocking, sea target assault, strike on ground targets and airspace control. The U.S. has not said it will intervene, but it has bases and forward-deployed assets in the area, including aircraft carrier battle groups. The US law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of grave concern. The drills are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and will include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an attempt to intimidate Taiwan's leaders and voters held in 1995 and 1996.
The exercises seem to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms, although China hasn't given any word on the number of troops and military assets involved.
The exercises involved military, air force, rocket force, strategic support force, and logistic support force, according to Xinhua.