China fired multiple missiles toward water near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan on Thursday, the island's Defence Ministry said, as Beijing makes good on its promise that Taipei will pay a price for hosting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China also rolled out curbs on the import of fruit and fish from Taiwan while halting shipments of sand to the island. The trip by Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency and the highest-profile elected US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, has ignited a diplomatic firestorm. She landed in Taiwan late Tuesday in the wake of increasingly stark warnings from China, which considers the island a part of its territory to one day be reclaimed, by force if necessary.
The Chinese military’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement that multiple missiles have been fired into the sea off the eastern part of Taiwan, adding that all the missiles hit their target accurately, CNN reported.
“The entire live-fire training mission has been successfully completed and the relevant air and sea area control is now lifted,” the statement said, as per the report.
Earlier, the Eastern Theatre Command said that it had conducted long-range, live-fire training in the Taiwan Strait, state broadcaster CCTV reported, as part of planned military exercises around the island.
Taiwan also reported that Chinese long-range rockets had fallen near its islands of Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, which are in the Taiwan Strait, but located closer to the Chinese mainland than the main island of Taiwan.
Chinese state media said that exercises to simulate an air and sea “blockade” around Taiwan had started on Wednesday, but offered little solid evidence to back up the claim. Later on Thursday, images showed military helicopters flying past Pingtan island, one of Taiwan’s closest points to mainland China.
The military posturing was a deliberate show of force after Pelosi left the island on Wednesday evening, bound for South Korea, one of the final stops of her Asia tour that ends in Japan this weekend, CNN reported.
Within hours of her departure from Taipei on Wednesday, the island’s Defence Ministry said China sent more than 20 fighter jets across the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the midway point between mainland China and Taiwan which Beijing says it does not recognise but usually respects.
China’s Customs Administration said it would suspend some citrus fruits and fish imports from Taiwan over alleged “repeated” detection of excessive pesticide residue and positive coronavirus tests on packages.
In a separate notice, the Commerce Ministry added it would also “suspend the export of natural sand to Taiwan” from Wednesday, without providing details.
It is not the first time Beijing has taken aim at Taiwan’s exports.
China banned pineapple imports from the island in March 2021, citing the discovery of pests, in a move that was widely seen as politically driven.
Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, as she views the island as a de facto sovereign nation and not part of “one China”.
On top of the latest bans, Taipei’s Council of Agriculture said on Tuesday that China had cited regulatory breaches in suspending the import of other Taiwanese goods, including fishery products, tea and honey.
Meanwhile, Chinese authorities also announced planned live-fire military drills encircling Taiwan, in a move Taipei’s defence ministry said threatened the island’s key ports and urban areas.
At some points, the zone of Chinese operations will come within 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of Taiwan’s shoreline, according to coordinates shared by the People’s Liberation Army.
Taiwan’s 23 million people have long lived with the possibility of an invasion, but that threat has intensified under current President Xi Jinping, China’s most assertive leader in a generation.