China began its "largest-ever" military exercises including live firing on the waters and in the airspace surrounding the island of Taiwan on Thursday. The exercise comes a day after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan amid threats and resistance by China over the decision
According to a tweet by AFP, "Taiwan's defence ministry says it is closely watching the drills and that the island was prepared for conflict, but would not seek it."
Chinese military helicopters flew past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest points to Taiwan, in Fujian province on Thursday.
The military exercises around Taiwan are to end at 12:00 p.m. (0400 GMT) on Sunday, according to state television.
Taiwan says it amounts to a sea and air blockade while the US said the drills were irresponsible and could spiral out of control.
Responding to the actions by the Chinese military, Taiwan's defence ministry released a statement saying, "The Ministry of National Defence stresses that it will uphold the principle of preparing for war without seeking war, and with an attitude of not escalating conflict and causing disputes."
On Saturday, China said it was conducting military exercises off its coast opposite Taiwan after warning Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. House of Representatives to scrap possible plans to visit the island democracy, which Beijing claims as part of its territory.
The ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, was conducting “live-fire exercises” near the Pingtan islands off Fujian province from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., the official Xinhua News Agency said. The Maritime Safety Administration warned ships to avoid the area.
China says military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments are underway in six zones surrounding Taiwan. Xinhua News Agency said the exercises were joint operations focused on “blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control”.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defence drills, while the US has numerous naval assets in the area.
The drills are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan's leaders and voters held in 1995 and 1996.
The exercises involved troops from the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Logistic Support Force under the Eastern Theatre Command.
(with inputs from AP)