Beijing (AFP) – China held live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait yesterday but Taipei dismissed the exercises as “routine” after expected large-scale naval manoeuvres failed to materialise.
Beijing had announced the drills last week, further ramping up tensions against the self-ruled island which China sees as its sovereign territory.
Vessels had been told to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland’s coast, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise.
But Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday that the drills only involved land-based artillery. “China deliberately released fake information to exaggerate it, to make it sound huge when in fact it’s small,” Taiwanese defence ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said.
The drills coincided with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Swaziland, one of Taipei’s few remaining international allies.