Chinese missiles land in Japan's waters amid warnings about 'miscalculations' during Taiwan war games

4 August 2022, 06:53 | Updated: 4 August 2022, 14:49

Liz Truss told Beijing to de-escalate as Chinese military drills started off the coast of Taiwan
Liz Truss told Beijing to de-escalate as Chinese military drills started off the coast of Taiwan. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

Chinese missiles fired towards Taiwan have landed in Japanese waters, Tokyo said as Beijing carried out mass war games around the island.

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Five out of nine ballistic missiles launched by China landed in near the island of Yonaguri which is part of Japan's 'exclusive economic zone', the country's defence minister said, adding that he had lodged a protest with Beijing.

Yonaguni sits around 70 miles off Taiwan's eastern coast. China has fired ballistic missiles at its neighbour before, but this is the first time they have landed in the Japanese zone.

The furore erupted hours after China launched the biggest military exercises it has ever held in the sea near Taiwan after Nancy Pelosi visited the island.

Tensions are running high as Beijing's forces moved in to start live-fire drills in busy shipping routes that Taipei considers tantamount to a blockade.

The exercises, which were scheduled to begin from 4am GMT, are taking place in some cases within just 12 miles from Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province and hopes to reunify with the mainland – raising fears of a possible future invasion.

The US Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, has deployed into the Philippine Sea to the east of the island along with four other warships. The US military described it as a "routine deployment".

China's state broadcaster, CCTV, said: "From 12:00 today to 12:00 [04:00 GMT] on the 7th, the People’s Liberation Army is conducting an important military training exercise and organised live fire.

"During this actual combat exercises, six major areas around the island were selected and during this period all ships and aircraft should not enter the relevant sea areas and airspace."

State media later reported that military forces had fired artillery in the area.

Some of those areas come into Taiwanese territorial waters and approach very close to some of its ports.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, who has the momentum in the Tory leadership race that will decide Britain's next Prime Minister, said: "I do not support China's inflammatory language on this issue.

"It's perfectly reasonable what is taking place and I urge China to de-escalate."

A Chinese helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest point from Taiwan
A Chinese helicopter flies past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest point from Taiwan. Picture: Getty

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan this week to show support for Taipei.

The issue is a sensitive topic in geopolitics. Most countries do not recognise it as a state but do have some form of economic relations, and it has not formally declared independence from China – something Beijing would view as unacceptable.

Read more: Taiwan scrambles military jets after 27 Chinese warplanes enter air defence zone

Its complicated ties with mainland China stem from its history, when nationalist forces that lost the civil war fled to the island while the communists seized power.

In time, most countries formally recognised the communist state instead of Taiwan as the government of China.

Ms Pelosi is a high-ranking US politician and such a visit has enraged Beijing.

Liz Truss told China to de-escalate
Liz Truss told China to de-escalate. Picture: Getty

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday called her visit "manic, irresponsible and highly irrational".

A map showing areas where the People's Liberation Army is exercising surround Taiwan, which has complained the exercises challenge the international order and effectively blockade it by sea and air.

A senior Taiwanese official told Reuters: "We can see China's ambition: to make the Taiwan Strait non-international waters, as well as making the entire area west of the first island chain in the western pacific its sphere of influence."

They added that if China was successful it would "be fatal for the safety and stability of regional countries, as well as for the regional economy."