China just did the unthinkable, sending a missile over Taiwan for the first time ever. Then, shockingly, they blamed Australia for pushing the world closer to war.
In what has been described as a “significant escalation”, Beijing overnight brought out the big guns and fired several missiles directly over the democratic island nation of 24 million people.
Chinese ships have also been spotted in the Taiwan Strait simulating an attack on the island.
Sending a missile through Taiwanese airspace, above the heads of its residents, is a line it has never crossed before.
The missiles were part of a show of force from China after the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan — a move Chinese authorities see as a provocation.
They weren’t the only shots fired as Beijing’s aggression turned to the US and its allies — including Australia.
China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying dragged Australia into the chaos with a few short sentences that would have caught the attention of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Speaking after Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Beijing’s actions were “deeply concerning” and “disproportionate and destabilising”, Ms Hua blamed the “US and its sidekicks” for moving the world closer to war.
“Our countermeasures are necessary as a warning to the provocateurs and as a step to uphold our sovereignty and security,” she said.
“Now the US and its sidekicks have spoken up accusing China of ‘overreacting’.
“But if they truly care about regional peace and stability, why hadn’t they stood up and tried to dissuade Pelosi early on? Couldn’t they have seen this coming and prevented it?
“I hope that the US and its handful of ‘buddies’ will realise that if they do respect the principle of democracy, then they should hear and respect the voice of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people.”
Writing in The Australian, author Greg Sheridan said that what China had done this week was move the world “a few steps closer to war” … a war he described as having “unimaginable consequences between the world’s two superpowers”.
“We’re still probably a long way away from war, but war got closer, more possible, more imaginable,” Sheridan wrote.
“Chinese naval warships and fighter aircraft have conducted live-fire military exercises in six or seven locations that form a circle around the island of Taiwan.”
China ‘simulating attack on island’
In a terrifying sign of what me be coming next, Chinese planes and ships operating in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday after believed to be simulating an attack on the self-ruled main island, Taiwan’s military said.
Taipei’s forces “detected multiple batches of Communist planes and ships conducting activities around the Taiwan Strait, some of which crossed the median line.
They were judged to be conducting a simulation of an attack on Taiwan’s main island,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
The Taiwan Strait which separates the island from the Chinese mainland is no stranger to military drills both on sea and in the air.
But the current exercises have gone much further than any previously. Chinese ships and aircraft have been crossing the so-called “median line” that divides the strait between the two nations. It’s a line that had been largely respected by Beijing.
A map released by China of the zones where its drills were taking place and where missiles could land showed some were within 12 nautical miles of Taiwan’s coast.
That would bring the drills into what would commonly be thought of as Taiwan’s domestic waters.
Images from maritime traffic tracking websites has shown commercial ships conspicuously absent from these zones to avoid getting caught in the melee. Some airlines have cancelled flights to Taipei.
Japan’s defence ministry said five Chinese missiles landed in waters within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) near some of its outlying islands. That in itself is a first.
But Japan added that four of those were “believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island”.
It released a map (below) which depicted the paths of missiles launched from China’s Fujian province. The rockets landed south of its Hateruma island, passing directly above or close to Taiwan’s capital en route.
While neither Beijing nor Taipei has officially confirmed the missile overflies, it’s being openly discussed in China.
“Our exercises this time included live-firing tests, and it was the first time they crossed Taiwan Island,” Meng Xiangqing, a pro-regime professor at China’s National Defence University, told state broadcaster CCTV.