China held live-fire military drills around Taiwan as a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island on Aug. 2. But a video posted on social media made unfounded claims that China had attacked a Taiwanese armory. An expert told us that the claim was false and a majority of the video’s footage did not appear to be from the week of Pelosi’s visit.
China announced that it would conduct “joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations” in five exclusion zones around Taiwan in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Aug. 2.
The Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a statement in response to the visit, saying, “China has repeatedly clarified the serious consequences of the visit to Taiwan, but Pelosi knowingly and maliciously provoked and created a crisis.”
Pelosi’s visit was the highest-level visit by a U.S. official in 25 years and prompted Chinese military maneuvers in Taiwan’s air defense zone ahead of her landing in Taipei, as Insider reported.
Beijing asserts that Taiwan is a part of China, though the island has been governed independently since 1949. The U.S. has maintained an unofficial relationship with Taiwan, which includes the sale of defense equipment. As Pelosi’s visit was in the works, some analysts feared that China would use the trip as a pretext to invade the island.
After her trip concluded, China conducted live-fire drills in Japan’s exclusive economic zone and, on Aug. 5, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported 68 Chinese aircraft in the Taiwan Strait — an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan. On Aug. 6, the Defense Ministry again reported that 14 Chinese aircraft had crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait. China had also deployed 14 warships in the waters around Taiwan, simulating a blockade.
These exercises sparked unfounded claims online. On Aug. 7, a video posted on social media claimed, “China launch attack from 68 aircraft and destroys Taiwan armory as visit Pelosi,” as images of jets and tanks fired shots in the background.
But there have been no reports to back the claim that China attacked a Taiwanese armory, and the video gives no supporting evidence.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that would remotely support the hypothesis that China attacked (kinetically or using cyber capabilities) a Taiwan armory in the past few days,” Lee said.
Lee also said the video on social media included pieces of real footage released by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, from Aug. 3 and 4 of air force flights around Taiwan and long-range rocket artillery fires into the Taiwan strait.
Brief images of amateur video also appear, which Lee said was possibly from summer exercises by the PLA, but he noted that they might not be related to Taiwan. All of the other PLA footage that appeared in the video was “unrelated to the events in the last week,” he said.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
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