Taiwan’s defence ministry appears to have confirmed those reports of missiles fired near Matsu. In a statement a short time ago it said the PLA had launched a number of Dongfeng series missiles into the waters northeast and southwest of Taiwan’s main island.
Earlier the PLA announced it had conducted long range “precision strikes” into the Taiwan Strait at 1pm, and civilian videos purportedly of projectiles launching from behind an otherwise picturesque Chinese beach in Pingtan spread across social media. The Guardian has not independently verified the footage.
Here are some still images of Chinese missile launches that have been shown on China’s CCTV state television today, which purport to be the missiles fired in Taiwan’s direction. The images have not been independently verified.
Daily life continues in Taiwan, even with the increased political tension.
Here is the full text of the statement issued by Taiwan’s foreign ministry today:
On 4 August, China launched multiple ballistic missiles into waters to the northeast and southwest of Taiwan, threatening Taiwan’s national security, escalating regional tensions, and affecting regular international traffic and trade.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of the Republic of China (Taiwan) strongly condemns the Chinese government for following the example of North Korea in wilfully test-firing missiles into waters near other countries, and demands that China exercise self-restraint.
MOFA urges the international community to condemn China’s military coercion towards Taiwan. The ministry also calls on countries around the globe to continue to speak up in support of democratic Taiwan in order to jointly safeguard the values of freedom and democracy, to maintain the rules-based international order, and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The Associated Press has spoken to a couple of residents of Taiwan about the Chinese military drills.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” joked one, referring to recent troubles in the economy. 63-year-old Lu Chuan-hsiong had been out enjoying his morning swim. He said he was not worried. “Because Taiwanese and Chinese, we’re all one family. There’s a lot of mainlanders here, too,” he said.
Those who have to work on the ocean were more concerned. Chou Ting-tai, who owns a fishing vessel, said “It’s very close. This will definitely impact us, but if they want to do this, what can we do?”
The video team at the Guardian have compiled some of the clips that purport to show China firing missiles into waters off Taiwan.
Russia has backed China’s right to carry out military exercises.
Reuters reports a Kremlin spokesperson said China had the sovereign right to hold major military drills around Taiwan, and accused the US of artificially fuelling tensions in the region.
“The tension in the region and around Taiwan was provoked by the visit of Nancy Pelosi,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “It was an absolutely unnecessary visit and an unnecessary provocation.”
The US opposes any unilateral efforts to change the Taiwan status quo, especially by force, and its policy on Taiwan has not changed, secretary of state Antony Blinken has told his south-east Asian counterparts.
Cross-straits stability was in the interests of the whole region, Reuters reports that Blinken told a meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry has said China “imitated” North Korea by firing missiles into waters near the island earlier in the day and called for self-restraint amid high tensions with Beijing.
It said it strongly condemned the actions, and called on the international community to jointly condemn China’s military threat. It urged other countries to continue to support democratic Taiwan, and to continue to hold up the international rule of law.
In addition, Reuters reports Taiwan now says that the Chinese missile launches came in waves lasting from 1356 to 1600 local time. It is now just gone 6pm in Taiwan.
Over at CNN, Brad Lendon has asked the question “does Taiwan have its own airspace?” and the answer is somewhat more complicated than you might imagine. De facto it does, but legally it is less clear. Lendon writes:
Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), a country’s territorial boundaries extend 12 nautical miles (22.2km) from its coastline. The area above is considered the country’s territorial airspace. China is a signatory to Unclos, signing on 10 December, 1982, and ratifying it in 1996. Taiwan is not.
Most countries in the world do not recognise Taiwan as an independent country. However, Drew Thompson, visiting senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and a former US Defense Department official, said most of the world treated Taiwan as if it were an independent country – and for that reason, it should be considered as having its own airspace.
“Under that principle, then perhaps we decide that international law applies, in which case Taiwan’s airspace extends to 12 miles beyond its baseline. Beyond the 12-mile limit is international waters, international airspace,” he added.
Thompson said there was also a matter of precedent and that even China’s military appeared to tacitly recognise this.
Despite the “fact that the PLA doesn’t recognise Taiwan, they’ve respected Taiwan’s airspace,” he said. Chinese commercial aviation companies also respected Taiwan’s airspace, Thompson said, recognising a “convention that effectively treats Taiwan as independent under civil aviation guidelines.”
The Global Times, which is a Chinese state media outlet, has published this video, which purports to show China launching missiles earlier today aimed at the waters around Taiwan. The video has not been independently verified.
Earlier Agence France-Presse distributed this video, which it said are projectiles firing upwards in the Taiwan strait.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, the government body that manages Taiwan’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China, has issued a response to todays events.
Reuters reports it said that the Chinese drills will not change the fact that the two sides don’t belong to each other, that it will be on high alert for infiltration and psychological warfare, and that using force will not solve problems and disagreements. It said it hoped both sides would see that peace and stability are beneficial to all people.
In a statement yesterday, it had said:
It is an objective truth that the two sides across the Taiwan strait are not subordinate to each other; no amount of maximum pressure from the Beijing authorities can change this. Our government remains consistent in our policy to maintain peace across the Taiwan strait: we firmly safeguard our national sovereignty and will never condone any “military invasion.” The Chinese Communist party’s illegitimate and unjustifiable actions have undermined the status quo of the Taiwan strait, put people’s lives and assets at stake, and severely breached the rules-based international order.