Bemused tourists granted front row seats to China's latest fire and fury
Visitors to Pingtan island, a popular destination with resplendent sea and reefs, were granted a front row seat to China's fury at Taiwan Hector RETAMAL AFP

The hum of holiday vibes and the selfie-snapping is interrupted by the roar of explosions as projectiles shoot up into the sky, prompting oohs and aahs from the surprised tourists

Visitors to Pingtan island, a popular destination with resplendent sea and reefs that attracts thousands of visitors every summer, have been granted a front row seat to China's latest fury at Taiwan.

The unprecedented military exercises are a response to this week's visit to the self-ruled island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- seen by Beijing as a major provocation.

The closest point in mainland China to Taiwan, about 125 kilometers away across the strait, Pingtan lies on the frontlines.

Tourists in shorts, t-shirts and caps defy the 38 degree Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature and crowd on the eastern tip of the island.

But the afternoon beach fun is swiftly punctuated by the boom of missile fire across the Taiwan Strait, sending tourists' heads spinning.

Their cameras swiftly shift from documenting family fun to the latest geopolitical missive between Beijing and Taipei, facing the azure sky to capture the projectiles soaring from military installations located only a few kilometers away.

"It's a little worrying all that... come on, let's go," a woman carrying a parasol to protect herself from the sun told her friends as other anxious tourists broke camp.

Further on, another group of tourists arrive to find out what all the commotion is about.

"We suddenly heard a huge noise. It surprised us at the time!" a student who came with friends and who introduces himself as Jack, tells AFP.

"If we were scared? Not at all", says the smiling young man.

The Chinese military maneuvres, which are taking place in six maritime areas around Taiwan, began Thursday noon (0400 GMT) and will continue until Sunday noon (0400 GMT).

© 2022 AFP