China's largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan kicked off Thursday, after a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The exercises will take place in various zones throughout Taiwan, including some within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the island's shore, and will conclude at midday on Sunday.
The drills include the “use of advanced weapons,” including state-of-the-art hypersonic DF-17 missiles, as per China’s Global Times newspaper.
Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets will be also used in the exercise.
The drills were described as 'unprecedented,' with Chinese missiles expected to 'fly over the island of Taiwan for the first time,' according to the Global Times.
'People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces are also expected to enter the area within 12 nautical miles of the island, potentially surrounding it completely,' according to military experts.
Taiwan's Maritime and Port Bureau issued a warning to ships on Wednesday to avoid the areas where the Chinese drills are taking place.
Beijing stressed that its military operations as 'necessary and just,' blaming the US and its allies for the escalation.
'In the current struggle surrounding Pelosi's Taiwan visit, the United States are the provocateurs, China is the victim,' foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a regular briefing Wednesday.
On its account, Taiwan's military said Thursday that its forces were closely monitoring unprecedented Chinese drills in waters surrounding the island, claiming that it was ready for conflict but would not seek it.
The Chinese military first publicly demonstrated the DF-17 missiles mentioned by Global Times on Wednesday, July 31, 2022.
At the time, an official video commemorating the 95th anniversary of the PLA's founding featured the launch of what the Chinese media described as an 'aircraft carrier killer' missile.
On the other hand, Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement 'The Ministry of National Defense stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes.' Meanwhile, the US Navy reported this morning that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was conducting routine operations in the Philippine Sea in the Western Pacific, a 5.7 million square kilometer (2.2 million square miles) stretch of ocean that includes waters southeast of Taiwan.
“USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway in the Philippine Sea continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a US Navy Seventh Fleet spokesperson said, as reported by Reuters.
It is noteworthy that US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan on Wednesday after a controversial visit during which she met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and a number of officials in Taipei, which led to further escalation of tensions between Washington and Beijing.
Pelosi’s trip is considered the first visit of a Speaker of the US House of Representatives to the island of Taiwan in 25 years – much to China's discontent.
Warnings between Beijing and Washington have been consistent, starting shortly before Pelosi’s arrival, with Beijing cautioning Washington that if Pelosi paid a trip to Taiwan, this would generate repercussions and China would resort to drastic measures.