Tensions sky high as USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier heads towards waters near Taiwan

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Leading US Democrat Nancy Pelosi earlier this week travelled to the island for what has been described as a “brief but controversial visit”. Taiwan is self-ruled, though Beijing sees it was a breakaway province that it will unite with.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted the House of Representatives Speaker was “violating China’s sovereignty under the guise of so-called democracy”.

He added: “Those who play with fire will not come to a good end and those who offend China will be punished.”

Reports this morning suggested the US had responded in kind by sending its aircraft carrier in the direction of the disputed island.

A spokesperson for the US Navy has, however, insisted the journey was “routine”.

They said: “USS Ronald Reagan and her strike group are underway in the Philippine Sea continuing normal, scheduled operations as part of her routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

This came shortly after the Taiwan Defence Ministry accused China of launching 11 ballistic missiles into waters near the island.

These are understood to have been sent in several volleys into waters near Taiwan’s northern, southern and eastern costs.

Taipei said the act “imitated” those conducted by North Korea.

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Chinese state media later confirmed that it conducted what is being reported as a “conventional missile launch”.

This was carried out by the Rocket Force of the Eastern Theater Command.

Live fire drills began at 12pm local time (4am GMT).

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They are expected to end on Sunday.

China today also cancelled a meeting with Japan over a statement released by the G7, of which Japan is a member, about Taiwan.

The foreign ministers of G7 nations yesterday called on Beijing to peacefully resolve tension around the Taiwan Strait.

They said: “We are concerned by recent and announced threatening actions by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), particularly live-fire exercises and economic coercion, which risk unnecessary escalation.

“There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”

Beijing responded to the statement, condemning it for “groundlessly [criticising] China for taking such measures, which are reasonable and legitimate steps to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

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