‘Cat and mouse’ manoeuvres as Taiwan sends warships to face down Chinese vessels


Taiwan has responded after China appeared to take part in military drills that simulated an attack following a major US official visiting the island.

China has now ended a number of live-fire military drills across seven zones around Taiwan in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island – one that infuriated Chinese officials.

However, there was an escalation on Sunday, with Taiwanese warships retaliating to the drills, sailing in close quarters to Chinese ships in the Taiwan Strait.

05.08.22. Map shows where Chinese military exercises are taking place (in the red boxes). The north box nudges into Taiwan's territorial waters
This map shows where Chinese military exercises took place (in the red boxes) with the north box nudging into Taiwan’s territorial waters

A source told the Reuters news agency that some Chinese ships crossed the median line – an unofficial buffer which separates the two sides.

They added the Taiwanese side monitored Chinese ships as they “pressed” the line, in an effort to deny them the chance to cross.

“The two sides are showing restraint”, they said, describing the manoeuvres as high seas “cat and mouse”.

“One side tries to cross, and the other stands in the way and forces them to a more disadvantaged position and eventually return to the other side.”

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In a press release, Taiwan’s defence ministry said China was using ships, aircraft and drones to simulate attacks on the island, adding it had dispatched aircraft to respond “appropriately”.

Taiwan added its land-based anti-ship missiles and its US-made Patriot surface-to-air-missiles were on stand-by.

On Saturday, China said the drills near the island had a focus on land and sea strike capabilities.

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What’s happening now with China and Taiwan?

A White House spokesperson said the exercises were an escalation, adding: “They are provocative, irresponsible and raise the risk of miscalculation.

“They are also at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is what the world expects.”

The US has numerous naval assets in the area, but the Biden administration has said it remains committed to the one-China policy, which recognises Beijing as the government of China but allows informal relations and defence ties with Taiwan.

The administration discouraged but did not prevent Ms Pelosi’s visit.

In continued retaliation to Ms Pelosi’s trip, China has imposed sanctions on her, and it has cut off defence talks with the US.

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