Japan’s leader on Friday called on China to end its military exercises around Taiwan, a day after five Chinese missiles fired during the exercise landed in waters Japan claims for its exclusive economic use.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for an “immediate halt” to the exercise, which he said has a “serious impact on peace and stability in the region and around the world,” Kyodo News reported. He addressed reporters after meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose high-profile visit to Taiwan this week infuriated China and led to military exercises.
Mrs. Pelosi said China “may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan.”
At least 11 Chinese missiles landed in waters north, south and east of Taiwan Thursday is the first day of the exercise, which is scheduled to end on Sunday. The People’s Liberation Army of China said that “they all accurately hit their targets.” Japan stated that five of them fell into its exclusive economic zone outside its territorial waters.
In addition to showing Beijing’s displeasure at her visit, the exercise, which is planned to take place in six zones surrounding Taiwan, appears to have been intended as a test run to isolate the island as part of a potential invasion. China’s leaders, including the current Xi Jinping, have long said that Taiwan must eventually be brought under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.
Drills have put the US in a delicate position. While the Pentagon wants to protect its forces in the region, it is also sensitive to the risk that a military miscalculation near the island could trigger an inadvertent escalation.
John Kirby, a national security official, said Thursday that the Pentagon has ordered the USS Ronald Reagan to “stay in place” in the region, but some distance from the entrance to the Taiwan Strait. It’s a more cautious move than the one taken during the Taiwan crisis in 1996, when President Bill Clinton moved aircraft carriers closer to the strait.
The United States will resume “standard air and sea transit traffic across the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.” Kirby added that this indicates that the White House wants the Chinese exercises to end first.
On Friday morning, the US 7th Fleet published pictures on twitter fighter jets on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan during so-called “flight operations” in the Philippine Sea southeast of Taiwan.
At the start of Friday, it was unclear how the rest of China’s exercises would play out. China’s Eastern Theater Command, which covers Taiwan, said it was mobilization According to Reuters, more than 100 fighters, bombers and other aircraft, as well as more than 10 destroyers and frigates.
Ben Dooley made a report.