China to hold live-fire drill following US health minister's historic Taiwan visit

Military maneuvers near Taiwan said to be Beijing's protest over highest-level visit by a US official

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Beijing is set to "welcome" the historic visit of the United States' highest level official to Taiwan since 1979 by launching a live-fire exercise between Aug. 11-13.

China Maritime Safety Administration (China MSA) issued a notice to mariners on Thursday (Aug. 6) about a three-day, live-fire exercise to take place every morning from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. from Aug. 11, near Zhoushan, China, in the East China Sea. Commercial vessels are not permitted in the designated area during this period of time.

(China MSA website screenshot)

The exercise will be held approximately 550 km from Taipei. The military drill is being described by Taiwanese media outlets as Beijing protesting over the U.S. health minister's visit.

Alex Azar, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and his delegation are expected to arrive on Sunday (Aug. 9). The minister is scheduled to visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, meet up with public health experts, and tour multiple medical mask production plants during his trip to Taiwan.