China ratcheted up its military intimidation of Taiwan yesterday by firing ballistic missiles which flew over the island and landed in Japanese waters.
As promised by the ruling Communist Party, four days of war games encircling Taiwan began just before 2pm (local time) with wave after wave of rocket launches, while Chinese jets took to the skies and ten warships patrolled the sea.
Five high-powered missiles fired from the mainland flew over Taiwan, Japanese officials said, and plunged into the sea south of Hateruma Island, part of Okinawa. The series of islands are part of Japan’s ‘exclusive economic zone’, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coast.
The test-firing, which triggered widespread international condemnation, was Beijing’s response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan earlier this week.
It prompted an immediate diplomatic protest by Tokyo and raised fears a further miscalculation by China could spark war. Japan’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi said: ‘This is a grave issue that concerns our country’s national security and people’s safety.’
Foreign minister Yoshimasa Hayashi called for an ‘immediate stop’ to the military drills, adding: ‘China’s actions this time have a serious impact on the peace and stability of the region and the international community.’
And US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned: ‘Countries around the world believe escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.
‘I hope very much Beijing will not manufacture a crisis or seek a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity.’