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 decided to overreact and use the speaker’s visit as an excuse to step up provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” White House spokesman John Kirby said.
China deployed dozens of aircraft and fired live missiles near Taiwan on Thursday in its largest Taiwan Strait exercise, a day after Ms. Pelosi made a solidarity trip to the self-ruled island.
The Chinese military has confirmed multiple conventional missile launches in waters off Taiwan as part of a planned six-zone exercise through Sunday afternoon.
More than 100 aircraft, including fighters and bombers, and more than 10 warships were involved, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said it scrambled jet planes to prevent 22 Chinese fighter jets that had crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait from entering its air defense zone, and said troops fired flares late Thursday night to drive off four drones that had flown over over the territory of its Kinmen Islands. off the southeast coast of China.
It says the missiles fired by China flew high into the atmosphere and did not pose a threat to it, in response to public concern over whether they flew over the main island of Taiwan.
“Collusion and provocation by the US and Taiwan will only push Taiwan to the abyss of disaster, bringing disaster to Taiwanese compatriots,” a spokesman for the Chinese Defense Ministry said.
Responding to Chinese exercises, President Tsai Ing-wen said that Taiwan would not provoke conflicts, but would firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.
“Taiwan will never be broken by challenges,” Mr. 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 scheduled test launch of the Air Force Minuteman III ICBM, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing US officials. One official said the delay could last up to 10 days, the report said.
Nancy Pelosi Arrives in Japan
Ms. Pelosi arrived in Japan Thursday for the last stop of her Asian tour, disembarking from her plane at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, before welcoming 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 “made it clear” that the United States would not give up on a democratic ally.
This is Ms. Pelosi’s first trip to Japan since 2015, and she comes from South Korea, where her schedule included visiting the border with nuclear-armed North Korea.
She will meet with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for breakfast on Friday to discuss the union of the two countries and issues of mutual interest, Japan’s Foreign Ministry said.
Japan, a key US ally, has lodged a diplomatic protest with China over its massive military exercises around Taiwan. Shortly before Ms. Pelosi’s arrival, Defense Secretary Nobuo Kishi said five ballistic missiles fired by China had allegedly landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Parts of Japan’s southernmost island region of Okinawa lie close to Taiwan, as do the islets at the center of a longstanding dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.
US President Joe Biden also angered Beijing during a visit to Japan in May when he said US troops would defend Taiwan militarily if China tried to take control of the island by force, prompting Beijing to warn that the US was “playing with fire.” “.
However, Mr. Biden and his team at the time insisted that their decades-old approach to Taiwan was still valid.
This includes arming a democratic island for its own defense, recognizing China’s legitimate sovereignty, and expressing “strategic ambiguity” about whether US troops will ever intervene if China invades the territory.
ASEAN ministers warn Taiwan-China tensions could lead to open conflict
Southeast Asian foreign ministers called for restraint on Thursday as China launched massive military exercises off the coast of Taiwan, warning that the situation could escalate into “open conflicts.”
Ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at a 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 released on Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is present at the talks along with his US counterpart Anthony Blinken, although they are not expected to have a one-on-one meeting.
At a meeting with ASEAN ministers, Mr. Blinken said that in recent days, the United States has been contacting China “at all levels of government” calling for calm and stability.
“I really hope that Beijing will not create a crisis or look for an excuse to increase its aggressive military activity,” Blinken said.
“We and countries around the world believe that the escalation is not needed by anyone and may have unintended consequences that do not serve anyone’s interests, including ASEAN members and including China.”
But Mr. Wang, speaking on the sidelines of Thursday’s ASEAN summit, said the United States’ “blatant provocation” had set a “blatant precedent.”
“If it is not corrected and opposed, will there be a principle of non-interference in internal affairs? Will international law be respected? How to maintain regional peace? He said this, according to the Chinese state media Xinhua.
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell, also in Phnom Penh, condemned China’s reaction.
“There is no reason to use the visit as a pretext for aggressive military action in the Taiwan Strait. For the legislators of our countries, traveling abroad is normal and normal,” he tweeted.
Kung Phoak, Deputy Foreign Minister of Cambodia and ASEAN official, urged both sides to stabilize the situation.
“We hope there will be a de-escalation… and the Taiwan Strait will return to normal,” he told reporters.
Ms. Pelosi, who visited Taiwan from the US at the highest level in 25 years, praised its democracy and assured American solidarity during her brief stopover. China’s anger could not stop world leaders from going there, she said.
“Our delegation came to Taiwan to make it clear that we will not give up on Taiwan,” Pelosi told Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, whom Beijing suspects of pushing formal independence, a red line for China.