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Taiwan holds live-fire drills as China extends war games

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(Al Jazeera) Taiwan’s military has held live-fire artillery drills simulating a defence of the island as China continued the air and naval exercises it had launched in protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled territory.

Taiwanese officials say Tuesday’s drills, which involved soldiers firing howitzer artillery out to sea, had long been scheduled and were not a reaction to China’s unprecedented war games.

Shortly after the hour-long Taiwanese drills ended, China’s Eastern Theater Command announced that it was continuing its exercises in the seas and airspace around Taiwan.

The Reuters news agency, citing an unnamed source, also reported that about 20 Chinese and Taiwanese navy boats were locked in a “standoff” in the Taiwan Strait, with some of the Chinese boats attempting to “press” into the waterway’s median line, the de facto sea border between China and Taiwan.

China claims democratically governed Taiwan, an island of 23 million people, as its own and has called Pelosi’s visit there last week a violation of its sovereignty and a provocation by the United States.

The joint air and sea exercises it launched in response have been its largest in the Taiwan Strait and involved test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time. They took place in six zones around the island and were scheduled to run for four days and end on Sunday.

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