Taiwan fires flares at 'Chinese drones' flying over Kinmen Island

Taiwan fires flares at ‘Chinese drones’ flying over heavily-fortified Kinmen Islands as officials warn ‘we will react if they come in’ as tiny nation braces for a possible invasion

Suspected Chinese drones flew over Taiwan and hackers attacked its defense ministry website, authorities in Taipei said on Thursday, a day after a diplomatic visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outraged the Communist nation.

China was to begin a series of military exercises around Taiwan on Thursday in response to Pelosi’s visit, some of which were to take place within the island’s 12-nautical-mile sea and air territory, according to the defense ministry in Taipei.

That has never happened before and a senior ministry official described the potential move as ‘amounting to a sea and air blockade of Taiwan’.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, said on Thursday its differences with the self-ruled island were an internal affair.

‘Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, external forces is reasonable, lawful,’ China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said.

China’s Xinhua news agency has said the exercises, involving live fire drills, will take place in six areas which ring Taiwan and will begin at midnight.

On Wednesday night, just hours after Pelosi left for South Korea, unidentified aircraft, probably drones, had flown above the area of the Kinmen islands, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.

Major General Chang Zone-sung of the army’s Kinmen Defense Command told Reuters that the drones came in a pair and flew into the Kinmen area twice on Wednesday night, at around 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.

‘We immediately fired flares to issue warnings and to drive them away. After that, they turned around. They came into our restricted area and that’s why we dispersed them,’ he said.

The heavily fortified Kinmen islands are just off the southeastern coast of China, near the city of Xiamen.

The defense ministry also said its website suffered cyber attacks and went offline temporarily late on Wednesday night, adding it was working closely with other authorities to enhance cyber security as tensions with China rise.

Pelosi, the highest-level U.S. visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised its democracy and pledged American solidarity during her brief stopover, adding that Chinese anger could not stop world leaders from travelling there.

China summoned the U.S. ambassador in Beijing and halted several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Security in the area around the U.S. Embassy in Beijing remained unusually tight on Thursday as it has been throughout this week.

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