TAIPEI: Chinese and Taiwanese warships played high-seas cat and mouse on Sunday, ahead of a scheduled end of four days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises in response to a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi's visit to the self-ruled island infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over the island's capital for the first time and the cutting of communication links with the United States last week.
Approximately 10 warships each from China and Taiwan sailed at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The Taiwan side stayed close to the Chinese side as Chinese forces pressed the line and denied them the ability to cross, as they did on Saturday.
The two sides are showing restraint, describing the manoeuvres as high as cat and mouse One side tries to cross and the other one is in the way and forces them to a more disadvantaged position, and eventually returns to the other side. Taiwan said its shore-based anti-ship missiles and its Patriot surface-to-air missiles were on stand-by.
The Chinese exercises, centred on six locations around the island, began on Thursday and are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday. China's military said on Saturday it was conducting sea and air joint exercises north, southwest and east of Taiwan with a focus on land-strike and sea-assault capabilities.
The exercises were called an escalation, according to the United States.
These activities are a significant escalation in China's efforts to change the status quo. A White House spokeswoman said they were provocative, irresponsible and raise the risk of miscalculation.
They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.