Taiwan condemned its "evil neighbour" on Friday after China fired multiple missiles into its surrounding waters, as many as four of which flew over the island's capital Taipei in an unprecedented escalation during live-fire exercises, Reuters reported.
China launched its largest ever military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi enraged Beijing by making a solidarity trip to the self-ruled island that China claims as its own.
Japan's defence ministry, which is tracking the exercises, first reported that as many as four of the missiles flew over Taiwan's capital. Japan also said that five of nine missiles fired towards its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), also a first, prompting Tokyo to launch a diplomatic protest.
Later, Taiwan's defence ministry said the missiles were high in the atmosphere and constituted no threat. It did not give details of their flight paths, citing intelligence concerns.
China is arbitrarily destroying the world's most frequently used waterway with military exercises, Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters in Taipei on Friday, referring to it as the "evil neighbour," when asked about China's missile launches.
China's actions are being condemned by neighbouring countries and the world, Su added.
"That's unprecedented," Bonnie Glaser, a Washington-based Asia security specialist at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said of statements that four ballistic missiles had been fired over Taiwan.
"In my view, the larger threat is that China is doing a rehearsal for a blockade, demonstrating it can block Taiwan's ports and airports, and prevent shipping," she said.
The drills are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.
Image courtesy: AP