- Taiwan downplays concerns
- China conducts unprecedented military exercises around Taiwan
- It comes on the heels of US House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei
- China says it will punish Pelosi for her ‘evil’ actions
- Pelosi, in Japan, joins Prime Minister Kishida in condemning China
TAIPEI (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said China’s missile launches during military exercises around Taiwan were an unwarranted escalation, with Beijing saying it would impose sanctions on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her visit to the island.
Diplomatic relations further deteriorated on Friday, with China’s foreign ministry following up by saying it would cancel dialogues between US and Chinese military leaders, and suspend bilateral talks on climate and maritime safety. Read more
Blinken said Washington has repeatedly made clear to Beijing that it is not seeking a crisis, as diplomatic disagreements persisted over Pelosi’s visit this week to the self-governing island that Beijing considers its sovereign territory.
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“There is no justification for this extreme and disproportionate military response and escalation,” Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia. “Now, they have taken serious business to a new level,” he added.
China launched its largest-ever military exercises in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after Pelosi angered Beijing by making a solidarity trip to the island, the highest US visit to Taiwan in 25 years. The live-fire exercises are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said in a statement on the official Weibo website that the Chinese military conducted air and naval exercises on Friday in north, southwest and east Taiwan “to test the combined combat capabilities of the troops.” the account.
Blinken emphasized that the United States would not take measures to provoke a crisis, but would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and sea transit through the Taiwan Strait.
“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.
The Washington Post reported that the White House summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang on Thursday to condemn the escalating measures against Taiwan.
State Department representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on China’s halt to the talks or the report that Washington had summoned Beijing’s ambassador.
China’s Foreign Ministry announced Friday that it will impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “evil” and “provocative” actions. Read more
“Despite China’s serious concerns and resolute opposition, Pelosi has insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” a State Department spokesperson said in statement. Read more
The State Department said it would also suspend cooperation in preventing cross-border crime, combating drugs, and cooperating in the repatriation of illegal immigrants.
Speaking in Japan, Pelosi said her trip to Asia was never about changing the regional status quo. Read more
A Taiwanese source familiar with the matter told Reuters that about 10 Chinese navy ships and 20 military aircraft briefly crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning. Read more
Earlier, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the island’s army had sent planes, ships and land-based missile systems to monitor the situation there.
On Thursday, China launched multiple missiles into the waters surrounding Taiwan in an unprecedented escalation during live-fire exercises.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense, which is following the exercises, initially reported that up to four missiles flew over the Taiwanese capital. It also said that five of the nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), also the first, sparking a diplomatic protest by Tokyo.
Later, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the missiles were high in the atmosphere and posed no threat. It did not give details of their travel itineraries, citing intelligence concerns.
Some Taipei residents, including Mayor Koo Win Jie, criticized the government for not issuing a missile alert, but a security expert said it could have been done to avoid creating panic and exploitation in the hands of China.
“You counteracted the psychological warfare effect of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Mi Fuxin, a US-based analyst. “The shock and fear were not as great as they could have been.”
In response to a request for comment on the missiles, Taiwan Premier Su Tsengchang did not respond directly, but referred to China as “the evil neighbor flexing its power at our door.” Read more
Bonnie Glaser, a Washington-based Asia security specialist at the German Marshall Fund for the United States, said.
In response to China’s exercises, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan will not provoke conflicts, but will firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.
Taiwan has been self-governing since 1949, when Mao Zedong’s communists took power in Beijing after defeating Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang nationalists in a civil war, prompting the KMT-led government to retreat to the island.
Beijing has said its relations with Taiwan are an internal affair. It says it reserves the right to bring Taiwan under Chinese control by force if necessary.
In Tokyo, Pelosi spoke of the diplomatic uproar caused by the congressional delegation’s week-long trip to Asia, specifically to Taiwan.
“We have said from the beginning that our representation here is not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region,” she told a news conference after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
“Spokesperson Pelosi informed that the fact that Chinese ballistic missiles landed near Japanese waters including the exclusive economic zone threatens our national safety and security and that Japan strongly condemned such actions,” Kishida said.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Japan’s ambassador and a Canadian diplomat in Beijing on Thursday over a “false” G7 statement on Taiwan, and had also lodged complaints with European Union envoys.
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Additional reporting by Yimo Lee and Sarah Wu in Taipei Additional reporting by Elaine Lies and Tim Kelly in Tokyo, Greg Torode in Hong Kong and Ann Wang in Liuchio Island; Susan Heavey in Washington. Writing by Tony Munro, Raju Gopalakrishnan, Simon Cameron Moore and Frances Kerry Editing by Mark Heinrich, Frances Kerry and Toby Chopra
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