Eight Chinese warships and 42 military aircraft were spotted today by Taiwan’s defense ministry around the island on the first day of Beijing’s military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

Twenty-nine aircraft crossed the median line that separates China from Taiwan, the ministry said, denouncing “absurd actions”.

Taiwan’s defense ministry had noted earlier today, after China announced three-day military training exercises around the island, that it would respond calmly, rationally and with a serious attitude, neither escalating clashes nor provoking conflict.

China used a visit to the US by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen as an excuse to hold the drills, the ministry added in its statement.

China’s military began three days of military exercises in the Taiwan Strait today, amid heightened tensions with the island following President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting in the US with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

The drills “serve as a serious warning against collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and external forces, as well as their provocative actions,” Chinese military spokesman Xi Yi warned in a statement.

Live-fire drills will be held on Monday in the Taiwan Strait off the coast of Fujian in eastern China, the province across from the island, local naval authorities said.