TAIPEI: Chinese and Taiwanese warships played high-seas “cat and mouse” on Sunday (Aug 7), hours before the scheduled end of four days of unprecedented Chinese military exercises launched in reaction to a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi’s visit last week to the self-ruled island infuriated China, which responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over the island’s capital for the first time and the cutting of communication links with the United States.
About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan sailed at close quarters in the Taiwan Strait, with some Chinese vessels crossing the median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
As Chinese forces “pressed” the line, as they did on Saturday, the Taiwan side stayed close to monitor and, where possible, deny the Chinese the ability to cross.
“The two sides are showing restraint”, the person said, describing the manoeuvres as high seas “cat and mouse”.
“One side tries to cross, and the other stands in the way and forces them to a more disadvantaged position and eventually returns to the other side.”
Taiwan said its shore-based anti-ship missiles and its Patriot surface-to-air-missiles were on stand-by.
The Chinese exercises, centred on six locations around the island, began on Thursday and are scheduled to last until midday on Sunday. China’s military said on Saturday it was conducting sea and air joint exercises north, southwest and east of Taiwan with a focus on testing land-strike and sea-assault capabilities.
The United States called the exercises an escalation.
“These activities are a significant escalation in China’s efforts to change the status quo. They are provocative, irresponsible and raise the risk of miscalculation,” a White House spokesperson said.
“They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.”
Source: Channel News Asia