China launched missiles over Taiwan over the weekend for the first time. The missiles are part of China's Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which are believed to be the Chinese version of HIMARS, which the US has sent to Ukraine to battle Russia.
The director of Asia Engagement at the Defense Priorities think tank posted images from CCTV-7, a Chinese TV station, showing the firing of these missiles in the Taiwan Strait. "They might not look as impressive as the missiles shot over Taiwan, but these systems could be the game changer," Lyle Goldstein said. "This is economical firepower and implies thousands of strikes per day, ranging the whole island."
The missiles, according to Thomas Yau of the South China Morning Post, said in response to Goldstein that MLRS are the "Chinese version of #HIMARS- The Weishi (guardian) family of MLRS. These are not unguided rocket too, capable of satellite mid-course and terminal guidances. In that sense I am not sure if we could still call that 'rocket,'" according to Newsweek.
Goldstein went on to say that MLRS are very accurate. "And part of the reason it's so accurate is, I think, the intelligence," he said. "In other words, all of the thinking that goes into where they want to put it has been excellent." He believes they are as accurate at HIMARS, and reply on a "huge intelligence system."
In military drills over the weekend, China used roughly 14 warships in military drills in the Taiwan Strait with 20 active planes on Saturday and 66 active planes on Sunday.
Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that on Saturday at least 14 planes crossed over the "median line" that acts as the unofficial boundary between China and Taiwan. Reuters reports, that China fired 11 missiles on Thursday and 68 planes were in use on Friday with 49 penetrating Taiwan's "air defence identification zone."
According to CNBC, China’s Eastern Theatre Command said their drills were focused on anti-submarine and sea assault operations.
Military tensions have continued to escalate since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2. Pelosi made the trip as part of a congressional delegation to Asia, despite warnings from China not to go.
The Chinese have continued military drills in the region as fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in joint blockage operations across six zones off the Taiwanese coast.
China's People's Liberation Army has amassed over 100 warplanes, 10 warships, and one nuclear-powered submarine in the area as well. China has also placed sanctions on Pelosi and her family directly for her visit.
China has staked a claim to Taiwan, and will not tolerate any nation saying that Taiwan should have independence. The Biden administration's John Kirby said that week in advance of Pelosi's trip that the US does not recognize Taiwanese independence. In the spring, Biden said that the US would "militarily defend" the island just off the coast of China's mainland.
In 2021, China shared their plan as to how they would stage an invasion of Taiwan. That plan was in three-stages, involving ballistic missiles, fighter jet attacks, and amphibious landings on Taiwan's beaches.
Taiwan has maintained their right to independence since 1949, when communists took over the mainland.
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