Taiwan on alert as China begins military drills around island

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Suspected drones flew over outlying Taiwanese islands and hackers attacked its defence ministry website, authorities in Taipei said on Thursday, a day (Aug 4) after a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi that outraged China.

Taiwan has been on alert as China conducts a series of military exercises in response to a visit to the island this week by Pelosi.

Some of the drills were to take place within the island’s 12-nautical-mile sea and air territory, according to the defence ministry in Taipei.

That has never happened before and a senior ministry official described the potential move as “amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan”.

Taiwan’s ruling party said on Thursday that the Chinese military drills have triggered regional tensions and are illegitimate.

China is conducting drills on the busiest international waterways and aviation routes and that is irresponsible unilateral behaviour, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party said.

Taiwan will strengthen self-defence capabilities and closely coordinate with the United States and like-minded countries, foreign ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou told a news conference on Thursday, when asked about China’s planned military drills.

South-east Asian foreign ministers warned on Thursday that the growing standoff over Taiwan could spark “open conflicts”.

Ministers from the 10-member Asean issued a joint statement saying the situation “could destabilise the region and eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers”.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said on Thursday its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal affair.

“Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, external forces ..

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