Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exhibited a great show of force in response to Speaker of The House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’s visit to Taiwan on August 3rd. While the visit was expected, in the eyes of Chinese President Xi Jinping, it violates the One China agreement. This agreement ensures that everyone sees and treats Taiwan as a part of mainland China. This is despite the island being considered independent since 1949.
Senior Colonel Shi Yi, assigned to the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, gave an announcement on Thursday. He claimed that “combat units of the rocket force under the PLA Eastern Theater Command conducted a multi-zone fire assault drill in the predetermined sea areas of the open waters off eastern Taiwan Island on the afternoon of August 4.” Yi also went on to claim that PLA forces were able to hit their targets, but stopped short of identifying the missiles used, and what targets were hit.
“The Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China” is the formal name of the Taiwanese government, and is rarely used outside Chinese channels. They claimed that PLA used the Dongfeng ballistic missiles. Claiming multiple missiles were launched into Taiwan’s NE and SW waters, it would seem likely that mainland China was placing Taiwan on an incredibly dangerous and destructive attack pattern.
Even if the attacks were off Taiwan’s shores, it was still inside territorial waters and were more than enough to alarm many Taiwanese residents. The Taiwanese government also went on to condemn this provocation and inform the people of Taiwan that their missile defense system was fully operational.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi spoke with reporters as well. Announcing a minimum of 5 Chinese rockets being launched in their direction, they landed inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) which extends 200 miles off Japanese shores. Kishi went on to say that all five landed off southwest Hateruma Island in Okinawa Prefecture according to Japan Times. Kishi went on to say that the attacks were a threat to his country’s national security and people’s safety.
According to Reuters, this was the first testing into the Strait of Taiwan since 1996. By posing such close threats to both Taiwan and Japan, China has, in turn, secured its targeting capabilities and proven what it can do if provoked. Given their recent uproar over Taiwan being a Chinese territory despite decades of independence, they felt a strong response to Pelosi showing up was the best way to ensure their message was heard.
China’s launching of the missiles began after Pelosi left and continued through August 7th. There has been no clear indication if this live-fire exercise is their only response to this perceived aggression, or if they intend to bring more actions toward the U.S. Either way, it is still prudent for American forces in both countries to be on high alert while in town.
The visit by Pelosi was a double-edged sword. While it was foolish and bold to present the Chinese with the portrait of “I’m Nancy Pelosi. I do what I want,” it was good to see Americans not backing down when communist forces attempt to snuff out the bright light of American freedom. Given the root cause of her visit being to bring a special congressional delegation to see some of the computer chip manufacturing as well as to meet with leaders, her visit could be seen as largely personal.
Her husband recently sunk a substantial amount into NVIDIA which manufactures computer chips in Taiwan. Her visit could have helped lock in substantial growth in the stock’s value in the coming months. This would put her into insider trading even more than she has already been accused of. Given how her visit escalated tensions with China, many would ask: was it worth it?