China military moves illegitimate: Taiwan

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China has launched unprecedented live-fire military drills in six areas that ring Taiwan, a day after a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-ruled island Beijing regards as sovereign territory.

Soon after the scheduled start at 4am GMT (2pm AEST), China's state broadcaster CCTV said the drills had begun and would end at the same time on Sunday.

They would include live firing on the waters and in the airspace surrounding Taiwan, it said.

Two missiles were launched near Taiwan's Matsu islands, which lie off the coast of China, at around 2pm local time (4pm AEST) in the direction of drill zones announced by China, according to an internal Taiwan security report seen by Reuters and confirmed by a source.

Taiwan officials have said the drills violate United Nations rules, invade Taiwan's territorial space and are a direct challenge to free air and sea navigation.

China is conducting drills on busy international waterways and aviation routes and that is "irresponsible, illegitimate behaviour", Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party said.

Taiwan's cabinet spokesman, expressing serious condemnation of the drills, said websites of the defence ministry, the foreign ministry and the presidential office were attacked by hackers.

Chinese navy ships and military aircraft briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line several times on Thursday morning, a Taiwanese source briefed on the matter said.

By midday on Thursday, military vessels from both sides remained in the area and in close proximity.

Taiwan scrambled jets and deployed missile systems to track multiple Chinese aircraft crossing the line.

"They flew in and then flew out, again and again. They continue to harass us," the Taiwanese source said.

On Wednesday night, hours after Pelosi left for South Korea, unidentified aircraft, probably drones, flew above the area of Taiwan's outlying Kinmen islands near the Chinese coast, Taiwan's defence ministry said.

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 Beijing-based Taiwan Affairs Office said.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Pelosi's visit to Taiwan a "manic, irresponsible and highly irrational" act by the United States, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

Wang, speaking at a meeting of Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Cambodia, said China had made the utmost diplomatic effort to avert a crisis, but would never allow its core interests to be hurt.

The foreign ministers in a statement had earlier warned volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to "miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers".

Unusually, the drills in six areas around Taiwan were announced with a locator map circulated by China's official Xinhua news agency earlier this week - a factor that for some analysts and scholars shows the need to play to both domestic and foreign audiences.

On Thursday, the top eight trending items on China's Twitter-like Weibo service were related to Taiwan, with most expressing support for the drills or fury at Pelosi.

"Let's reunite the motherland", several users wrote.

"This (Pelosi's visit) is a good thing," said a man surnamed Zhao in the capital's central business district.

"It gives us an opportunity to surround Taiwan, then to use this opportunity to take Taiwan by force. We should thank Comrade Pelosi."

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

"Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan," Pelosi told the island's President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence.

The United States and the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations warned China against using Pelosi's visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

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