‘Hasn’t fought war’ Xi rumbled over Taiwan bluff as China army ‘ruins element of surprise’

After Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan, China announced it would commence live fire drills around the island, beginning on Thursday. Since then, Taiwanese officials have put missile systems on alert.

China’s live fire drills, carried out by the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), are to demonstrate their military capabilities and to intimidate Taiwan.

However, Meia Nouwens, a senior fellow on Chinese military and defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, said the PLA is a “military that hasn’t actually fought a war, or had this opportunity to practice its missile and joint capabilities since modernising in the last few years”.

She added: “To show strength at a time of domestic concern is certainly an added bonus.”

China’s live fire drills, carried out by the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), are to demonstrate their military capabilities and to intimidate Taiwan.

However, Meia Nouwens, a senior fellow on Chinese military and defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, said the PLA is a “military that hasn’t actually fought a war, or had this opportunity to practice its missile and joint capabilities since modernising in the last few years”.

She added: “To show strength at a time of domestic concern is certainly an added bonus.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, Ms Nouwens added: “They’re in this Catch-22 – they want to exercise to be able to learn for their own purposes, for what their military can or can’t do.

“But they don’t want to give too much away on what they’re planning.

“That ruins the element of surprise and helps your adversaries.”

China regards independent Taiwan as a breakaway state, and has promised to reunite it with the mainland.

READ MORE: China-Taiwan LIVE: Island prepares ‘combat readiness’

On Thursday, Taiwan reported Chinese long-range rockets had fallen near the islands of Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, which are in the Taiwan Strait, but located closer to the mainland than the main island of Taiwan.

It later said a total of 11 Dongfeng missiles were fired to the waters north, south and east of the island between 1.56pm and 4pm local time (between 6.56am to 9am BST).

According to state television channel CCTV, Chinese missiles also flew over Taiwan Island for the first time.

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On Thursday, Taiwan reported Chinese long-range rockets had fallen near the islands of Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, which are in the Taiwan Strait, but located closer to the mainland than the main island of Taiwan.

It later said a total of 11 Dongfeng missiles were fired to the waters north, south and east of the island between 1.56pm and 4pm local time (between 6.56am to 9am BST).

According to state television channel CCTV, Chinese missiles also flew over Taiwan Island for the first time.

Maj. Gen. Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at the National Defence University in Beijing, told CCTV China’s conventional missiles flew over airspace covered by Taiwanese defence missiles.

He said: “We hit the targets under the observation of US Aegis combat system, which means the Chinese military has solved the difficulties of hitting long-range targets on waters.”

The Taiwanese Defence Ministry said in a statement late Thursday night that the trajectory of the missiles was above the atmosphere and therefore posed no risk to Taiwan.

It said: “Using the surveillance and reconnaissance systems, our military can accurately calculate the trajectory of the Dong Feng-series missiles fired by the Chinese Communist Party.”

In response to China’s live fire drills over Taiwan, US officials have blasted Beijing and called it “flagrantly provocative”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the remarks when speaking at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, and added China had sought to intimidate not only Taiwan, but neighbours too.

Ms Pelosi also said her trip to Asia was never “about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region”.

She made the comments after meeting Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida.

Five missiles launched by China landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), prompting Tokyo to lodge a strong protest through diplomatic channels.