Chinese marine during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016 DVIDS
The country earlier announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were under way in six zones surrounding Taiwan (Picture: US Department of Defense).
China

China military claims to have carried out 'precision missile strikes' in Taiwan Strait

Beijing earlier announced that exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were under way in six zones surrounding Taiwan.

Chinese marine during Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016 DVIDS
The country earlier announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were under way in six zones surrounding Taiwan (Picture: US Department of Defense).

China said it has conducted "precision missile strikes" in the Taiwan Strait as part of military exercises that have raised regional tensions to their highest level in decades.

The country earlier announced that military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments were under way in six zones surrounding Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.

The drills were prompted by a visit to the island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week and are intended to advertise China’s threat to attack the self-governing island republic.

Along with its moves to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, China has long threatened military retaliation over moves by the island to solidify its de facto independence with the support of key allies including the US.

The Eastern Theatre Command of the People's Liberation Army, the ruling Communist Party's military wing, said in a statement on its social media platform: "Long-range armed live fire precision missile strikes were carried out on selected targets in the eastern area of the Taiwan Strait".

Watch: China conducts live-firing drills near Taiwan.

"The expected outcome was achieved," it added.

No other details were given.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry said its forces were on alert and monitoring the situation, while seeking to avoid escalating tensions.

Civil defence drills have also been held and notices were placed on designated air raid shelters.

China's "irrational behaviour" intends to alter the status quo and disrupt regional peace and stability, the ministry said.

"The three service branches will combine efforts with all the people to jointly safeguard national security and territorial integrity" while adapting to the situation as it develops, the statement said.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported the exercises were joint operations focused on "blockade, sea target assault, strike on ground targets, and airspace control".

Watch: Taiwan - US committed to military intervention if China invades 

While the US has not said it would intervene, it has bases and forward-deployed assets in the area, including aircraft carrier battle groups.

US law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of "grave concern".

The drills are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan's leaders and voters held in 1995 and 1996.

While China has given no word on the number of troops and military assets involved, the exercises appear to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms.

Xinhua reported that the exercises involved troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistic support force.