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China launches military drills around Taiwan, after Pelosi’s departure

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China on Wednesday commenced military drills around Taiwan’s main island, according to Chinese state media, hours after US House Speaker departed from Taipei following a visit that has rankled Beijing. 

Live-fire drills began in six identified zones around the island at noon local time, Al Jazeera reported citing China state media.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Wednesday organized joint combat training exercises in the northern, southwestern and southeastern waters and airspace off Taiwan Island.

Under the Eastern Theater Command, the exercises involved troops from the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Logistic Support Force. 

“The exercises focused on key training sessions including joint blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control operation, and the joint combat capabilities of the troops got tested in the military operations,” Xinhua added. 

Responding to a question about the PLA’s decision to kick off the drills two days after Pelosi’s arrival, a military expert said that the arrangement shows the army’s rational and responsible attitude as it leaves time for domestic and foreign civilian ships and airlines to evacuate their ships and adjust their flights, Global Times reported.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the Naval Research Academy of the People’s Liberation Army, said that the drills include long-range live-fire shooting and conventional missile test launches. 

As per the international conventions, areas of military drills have to be disclosed three days in advance and 24 hours in advance under an emergency situation. 

” That is mainly to leave enough time for domestic and foreign ships to evacuate as well as for related civilian airlines to adjust their routes to avoid the areas. The move is intended to avoid hurting ordinary people during the drills, showing the rational and responsible attitude of the PLA,” Zhang said as quoted by Global Times.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said that an unidentified aircraft flew above the Kinmen Islands, Taiwanese territory off China’s southeastern coast, on Wednesday night and it had fired flares in response. 

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