Tensions escalate as China launches ballistic missiles towards Taiwanese waters

China has launched several Dongfeng ballistic missiles into waters around Taiwan's northeast and southwest coasts. Taiwan's Defence Ministry said it had activated related defence systems in response to the launch, according to a Reuters report.

Taiwan will be on alert for "infiltration and psychological warfare", Reuters quoted the island's Mainland Affairs Council as saying on Thursday.

The council said it thinks China is attempting to isolate Taiwan and force the international community to stop supporting the island, said the report.

The live fire drills began at 12:00 local time (04:00 GMT) and are set to end on Sunday.

Meanwhile the US Navy has dispatched an aircraft carrier towards Taiwan, in what it says are "normal, scheduled operations" in the Philippine Sea.

Uss Tripoli

The US has significant naval assets in the region including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which has returned to the South China Sea after making a port call to Singapore last week, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli, which is near Okinawa, and the amphibious assault ship USS America, which is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan.

Further in the Pacific, the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, Landing Helicopter Dock USS Essex and 36 other warships as well as three submarines are in Hawaii.

Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport said on Wednesday that more than 50 international flights have been cancelled on Thursday including 26 arriving flights to Taiwan, and 25 flight departures.

Korean Air has also cancelled flights from Incheon to Taiwan on Friday and Saturday, while Asiana Airlines cancelled its direct flight to Taiwan on Friday and will monitor the situation, South Korean media reported on Thursday.

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