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Taiwan fires flares at ‘Chinese drones’ flying over heavily-fortified Kinmen Islands

Suspected Chinese drones flew over Taiwan and hackers attacked the Defense Ministry website, Taipei authorities said Thursday, a day after a diplomatic visit by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infuriated the communist nation.

China was set to begin a series of military exercises around Taiwan on Thursday in response to Pelosi’s visit, some of which would take place within the island’s 12-mile sea and air area, according to the Defense Ministry in Taipei.

That has never happened before and a senior ministry official described the potential move as “a naval and air blockade of Taiwan.”

Nancy Pelosi, center, with New York Congresswoman Gregory Meeks, far right, just before boarding her US Air Force jet in Taipei and leaving Taiwan after a historic visit that infuriated China and escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington

Nancy Pelosi, center, with New York Congresswoman Gregory Meeks, far right, just before boarding her US Air Force jet in Taipei and leaving Taiwan after a historic visit that infuriated China and escalated tensions between Beijing and Washington

Taiwanese army units fired flares at suspected Chinese drones that flew over the island's airspace after Pelosi's visit

Taiwanese army units fired flares at suspected Chinese drones that flew over the island’s airspace after Pelosi’s visit

Taiwanese defense officials reported unidentified aircraft, likely drones, flying over the Kinmen Islands

Taiwanese defense officials reported unidentified aircraft, likely drones, flying over the Kinmen Islands

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

“Our punishment of pro-Taiwan independence diehards, outside forces is reasonable and lawful,” said the Chinese Taiwan Bureau of Affairs.

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

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Taiwan is a series of islands about 80 miles off the coast of mainland China where the East China Sea meets the South China Sea

Pelosi, the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, celebrated her meeting with Taiwan's female president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday and said it shows the US will not give up

Pelosi, the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives, celebrated her meeting with Taiwan’s female president, Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday and said it shows the US will not give up “its commitment” to the island.

A handout photo made available by the Taiwan presidential office shows Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (R) and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bumping their elbows during their meeting at the presidential office on Wednesday. palace in Taipei

A handout photo made available by the Taiwan presidential office shows Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (R) and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bumping their elbows during their meeting at the presidential office on Wednesday. palace in Taipei

Wednesday night, just hours after Pelosi left for South Korea, unidentified aircraft, likely drones, had flown over the Kinmen Islands area, Taiwan’s defense ministry said.

Major General Chang Zone-sung of the army’s Kinmen Defense Command told Reuters that the drones came in pairs and flew into the Kinmen area twice on Wednesday evening, around 9pm and 10pm.

“We immediately fired flares to warn and scare away. Then they turned around. They entered our restricted area and that’s why we dispersed them,” he said.

The heavily fortified Kinmen Islands are located just off the southeast coast of China, near the city of Xiamen.

The Defense Ministry also said its website suffered from cyber-attacks and went offline late Wednesday night, adding that it was working closely with other authorities to improve cybersecurity as tensions with China mount.

Pelosi, the highest US visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, praised democracy and pledged US solidarity during her brief layover, adding that Chinese anger couldn’t stop world leaders from traveling there.

China has summoned the US ambassador to Beijing and halted several agricultural imports from Taiwan.

Security in the area around the US embassy in Beijing remained unusually tight on Thursday, as it has all week.

Although Chinese social media users have expressed anger at Pelosi, there were no signs of significant protests or calls to boycott American products.

The view from the deck of a Chinese missile destroyer taking part in military exercises in the Taiwan Strait today as Beijing threatens its democratic neighbor

The view from the deck of a Chinese missile destroyer taking part in military exercises in the Taiwan Strait today as Beijing threatens its democratic neighbor

A Chinese anti-aircraft crew opens fire with a mobile cannon during live fire drills that began Tuesday and will last until Thursday, when even larger naval and air drills begin

A Chinese anti-aircraft crew opens fire with a mobile cannon during live fire drills that began Tuesday and will last until Thursday, when even larger naval and air drills begin

Chinese anti-aircraft forces in the Eastern Theater - which spans the Taiwan Strait - participate in live fire drills at night in an attempt to intimidate Taipei and the US

Chinese anti-aircraft forces in the Eastern Theater – which spans the Taiwan Strait – participate in live fire drills at night in an attempt to intimidate Taipei and the US

A Xian H-6 Chinese bomber participates in military air exercises near Taiwan today as Beijing puts on an unprecedented display of strength after Nancy Pelosi visited the island

A Xian H-6 Chinese bomber participates in military air exercises near Taiwan today as Beijing puts on an unprecedented display of strength after Nancy Pelosi visited the island

China has flown 27 fighters, including six J-11 jets (pictured today) into Taiwan's air defense zone as Beijing continues to threaten Taipei over its ties to the US

China has flown 27 fighters, including six J-11 jets (pictured today) into Taiwan’s air defense zone as Beijing continues to threaten Taipei over its ties to the US

Chinese anti-aircraft batteries participate in military exercises to intimidate Taiwan

Chinese anti-aircraft batteries participate in military exercises to intimidate Taiwan

Taiwan mixed up jets on Wednesday to warn 27 Chinese planes in its air defense zone, the island’s defense ministry said, adding that 22 of them crossed the median line separating the island from China.

Pelosi arrived late Tuesday with a congressional delegation on her unannounced but closely monitored visit, defying repeated warnings from China and amid sharply deteriorating US-China relations.

“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who is suspected by Beijing of seeking formal independence – a red line for China .

“Now, more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial, and that is the message we bring here today.”

China considers Taiwan part of its territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control. The United States and foreign ministers of the Group of Seven Nations warned China not to use the visit as a pretext for military action against Taiwan.

“Unfortunately, Taiwan has been prevented from participating in global gatherings, most recently the World Health Organization, due to objections from the Chinese Communist Party,” Pelosi said in a statement after her departure.

“While they can stop Taiwan from sending its leaders to global forums, they can’t stop world leaders or anyone else from traveling to Taiwan to pay respect to its thriving democracy, highlight its many successes, and reaffirm our commitment to continued cooperation.” Pelosi added. .

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