The United States said Thursday that China’s launch of 11 ballistic missiles around Taiwan was an overreaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
“China has chosen to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesman John Kirby said. .
China deployed dozens of planes and fired live missiles near Taiwan on Thursday in its biggest drills in the Taiwan Strait, a day after Ms Pelosi made a solidarity trip to the self-governing island.
The Chinese military has confirmed several conventional missile strikes in waters off Taiwan as part of exercises planned in six areas that will run until noon on Sunday.
It activated more than 100 aircraft, including fighter jets and bombers, and more than 10 warships, state broadcaster CCTV said.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it dispatched planes to warn 22 Chinese warplanes crossing the center line of the Taiwan Strait into its air defense zone and said troops fired flares on Thursday night to hunt four drones that flew over the area of his Kinmen Islands. , off the southeast coast of China.
He said the missiles fired by China flew high in the atmosphere and posed no threat to it, addressing public concerns over whether they passed over the main island of Taiwan.
“The US-Taiwanese collusion and provocation will only push Taiwan towards the abyss of disaster, bringing disaster to Taiwan compatriots,” a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Responding to the Chinese drills, President Tsai Ing-wen said Taiwan will not provoke conflicts but will firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.
“Taiwan will never be overthrown by challenges,” Tsai said in a recorded video message to the people of Taiwan.
To avoid further escalation of tensions with Beijing, the United States has postponed a routine test launch of an Air Force Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing US officials. An official said the delay could last 10 days, according to the report.
Nancy Pelosi arrives in Japan
Ms Pelosi arrived in Japan on Thursday for the final leg of her Asian tour, disembarking from her plane at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo before greeting the US ambassador and other officials with hugs and handshakes.
The 82-year-old politician defied a series of harsh threats from China to meet with Taiwanese leaders on Wednesday, saying her trip showed “unequivocally” that the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.
This is Ms Pelosi’s first trip to Japan since 2015, and she arrived from South Korea where her schedule included a visit to the border with nuclear-armed North Korea.
She will meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for breakfast on Friday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, to discuss the two countries’ alliance and issues of common concern.
Japan, a key US ally, has lodged a diplomatic protest with China over its massive military exercises encircling Taiwan. Just before Ms Pelosi’s arrival, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said five ballistic missiles fired by China were said to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Parts of Japan’s southernmost island region, Okinawa, are close to Taiwan, as are islets at the center of a long-running dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.
US President Joe Biden also angered Beijing during a visit to Japan in May when he said US forces would militarily defend Taiwan if China attempted to take control of the island by force. prompting Beijing to warn that the United States was “playing with fire”.
Mr Biden and his team insisted at the time that their decades-old approach to Taiwan remained in place, however.
That includes arming the Democratic Island for its own defense while acknowledging China’s legal sovereignty and expressing “strategic ambiguity” over whether U.S. troops would ever intervene if China invaded the territory.
ASEAN ministers warn tensions between Taiwan and China could spark open conflict
Southeast Asian foreign ministers on Thursday urged restraint as China launched massive military drills off Taiwan, warning the situation risked escalating into “open conflict”.
Ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Phnom Penh warned against “provocative actions”.
The situation “could lead to miscalculations, serious confrontations, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences between the major powers”, the ministers said in a joint statement issued on Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is attending the talks with his US counterpart Antony Blinken, although they are not expected to hold a face-to-face meeting.
In a meeting with ASEAN ministers, Blinken said the United States had reached out to China “at all levels of government” in recent days to urge calm and stability.
“I really hope that Beijing doesn’t manufacture a crisis or look for a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity,” Blinken said.
“We and countries around the world believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests, including ASEAN members and China.”
But Mr Wang, speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit on Thursday, said the “blatant provocation” by the United States had set a “flagrant precedent”.
“If not corrected and countered, will the principle of non-interference in internal affairs still exist? Will international law always be respected? How can regional peace be safeguarded? he said, according to Chinese state media Xinhua.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, also in Phnom Penh, condemned the Chinese response.
“There is no justification for using a visit as a pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait. It is normal and routine for lawmakers in our countries to travel overseas,” he tweeted. .
Kung Phoak, Cambodian Deputy Foreign Minister and ASEAN Spokesperson, urged both sides to stabilize the situation.
“We hope de-escalation will happen … and normality will return to the Taiwan Strait,” he told reporters.
Ms. Pelosi, the highest American visitor to Taiwan in 25 years, hailed its democracy and pledged American solidarity during her brief stopover. Chinese anger could not stop world leaders from going there, she said.
“Our delegation has come to Taiwan to say unequivocally that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Ms Pelosi told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects of pushing for formal independence – a red line for China.