The missiles were launched as part of China’s retaliatory military exercises against Taiwan, including cutting off several international air and sea paths to the island in a sort of blockade.
Japanese defense minister Nobuo Kishi said having five Chinese missiles fall within Japan’s EEZ is a first and that they have protested strongly through international channels.
Shortly before the launch, Chinese Communist Party authorities canceled a planned meeting between China and Japan’s foreign ministers, with China citing displeasure over Japan’s signing of a joint statement by the G-7, which called on China to resolve its tensions with Taiwan in a peaceful manner.
“We call on the PRC not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region, and to resolve cross-Strait differences by peaceful means,” the statement said.
Taiwan already warned that the CCP could “invade” local waters as China goes about conducting its largest ever military exercises across the Taiwan Strait. These exercises included joint naval, air and missile forces, which are operating in six areas surrounding the island nation.
Some of these exercise areas were declared to be “prohibited” to international travel, and usually occurred within 10 miles of Taiwan’s coastline. A nation’s sovereign waters are supposed to end 12 miles from the coastline, as per international law.
Such maneuvers by China would constitute an invasion of Taiwan’s territorial waters if Chinese forces were to travel the full breadth of the exercise areas, said Taiwan lawmaker, Wang Ting-yu.
“If they send in their fighters or their warships to enter our territorial sea, that means China invaded our territory and we will have our standard [operating] procedure to respond to that,” he said. “We don’t want to provoke any conflict here, but whoever dares to invade our country, our home, we have our obligation to defend our home.”
Many also speculated that after this year’s 20th CCP Congress, which will be held in Beijing in November, the CCP could have a very sharp uptick in its aggression toward Taiwan.
CCP authorities, however, claim that Taiwan is a rogue province of China that must be reunited with the mainland. As such, China’s state-owned propaganda media have issued articles claiming that Taiwan’s territorial waters are theirs.
Taiwan has been self-governed since 1949 and has never been controlled by the CCP. It also boasts a democratic government and a thriving market economy.
China positioning itself to take aggressive actions
According to the White House, China was positioning itself to take further aggressive actions against Taiwan following its announcement of the exercises, which effectively blocked many important international trade routes.
White House National Security Council communications coordinator John Kirby said during an August 2 press briefing that China has positioned itself to take further steps and that they are expected to continue to react longer-term.
“The United States will not seek and does not want a crisis. [But] we are prepared to manage what Beijing chooses to do,” he said, adding that what they have seen thus far is consistent with what they expected from the communist government.
China’s escalations followed a highly publicized visit to Taiwan by U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which it protested. Both China and the United States have used the ensuing tensions to accuse one another of unilaterally attempting to change Taiwan’s status quo.
The United States maintains a “One China” policy, which acknowledges but does not endorse the CCP principle that there is one inalienable China that Taiwan remains a part of. It is also bound by a treaty to supply Taiwan with the arms necessary to defend its de facto independence.
Further, documents that form the basis of the agreement between China and the U.S. on the Taiwan issue demand that neither country can seek to unilaterally change the status quo through force or coercion.
The CCP also said it would “start a war, no matter the cost” if it means they can prevent Taiwan’s independence from being recognized internationally.