TAIPEI: A Taiwanese vessel on Friday launched a supersonic missile towards China, which the naval officials later on clarified as a mistake.

In a statement issued to media, the navy said that the reason behind the accidental missile launch was still unknown, adding that it appeared to be a human error.

“Our initial investigation found that the operation was not done in accordance with normal procedure,” said Taiwan’s top navy official.

The missile was launched towards China at around 8:10 am (local time) during a drill at a naval base in the southern city of Tsoying.

It was a Hsiung-feng III missile, with a range of 300 km, but it only flew about 75 kilometers before plunging into waters off Penghu.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have deteriorated noticeably since President Tsai Ing-wen of the China-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was elected in January.

China still insists that self-ruling Taiwan is part of its territory, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war, and has not ruled out using force to bring about reunification.