China will conduct a week of surface-to-surface missile tests in the waters off Taiwan starting Friday, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said today.
Announcement of the tests has been long expected. For weeks, China reportedly has been mobilizing large numbers of troops on its southeastern coast as part of a campaign to intimidate Taiwan in the weeks before the island’s presidential election March 23.
The Chinese government requested that foreign governments notify their ships and aircraft to stay clear of the firing range between this Friday and March 15, Xinhua said.
Missiles will be tested in two areas that lie just to the north and to the east of Taiwan; the coordinates given by Xinhua indicate the missiles could come within 12 miles of the island.
U.S. officials and military analysts have said that China is not preparing to invade the island. Analysts believe China lacks the naval and air capability to mount such a large-scale operation.