BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships had taken part in live-fire military exercises around Taiwan in the past two days, while announcing sanctions against the president of the United States House, Nancy Pelosi, during her visit. to the self-contained island earlier this week.
The official Xinhua news agency said on Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates had all been used in what it called “joint blockade operations” taking place in six areas off the coast of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
The army’s Eastern Theater Command also fired new versions of the missiles which it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision”.
These included projectiles fired over Taiwan in the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major increase in China’s threats to annex the island by force.
The drills, which Xinhua described as being held on an “unprecedented scale”, are China’s response to a visit this week by Pelosi in Taiwan. She is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
China announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and his family. These sanctions are usually primarily symbolic in nature.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said Pelosi had ignored China’s grave concerns and resolute opposition to his visit. He called Pelosi’s visit provocative and said it undermined China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China opposes Taiwan having its own engagements with foreign governments.
On the Chinese coast opposite Taiwan, tourists gathered on Friday to try to catch a glimpse of any military aircraft heading towards the exercise area.
Warplanes could be heard flying overhead and photo tourists chanted “Let’s take back Taiwan”, gazing out over the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan Island, a popular scenic spot.
China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and the threat to use force to bring it under its control have featured prominently in the ruling Communist Party’s propaganda, education system and fully controlled media. by the state for more than seven decades since the parties split amid civil war. in 1949.
The island’s residents overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands for Taiwan to unify with the Communist-controlled mainland.
On Friday morning, China sent military ships and warplanes across the center line of the Taiwan Strait, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said, crossing what had for decades been an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan.
Five of the missiles fired by China since the start of military exercises on Thursday have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off Hateruma, an island in the southernmost part of Japan’s main islands, the Japanese defense minister said. Nobuo Kishi. He said Japan had protested the missile landings in China, calling them “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s Defense Ministry later said it believed the other four missiles, fired from China’s southeast coast of Fujian, flew over Taiwan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that Chinese military exercises targeting Taiwan posed a “serious problem” that threatens regional peace and security.
In Tokyo, where Pelosi ends her Asia trip, she said China can’t stop US officials visiting Taiwan. Speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and his congressional delegation, Kishida said the missile launches must be “stopped immediately”.
China said it had summoned European diplomats to the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven and the European Union criticizing threatening Chinese military exercises around Taiwan.
On Friday, the Foreign Ministry said Vice Minister Deng Li had made “solemn representations” over what it called “wanton interference in China’s internal affairs”.
Deng said China would “prevent the country from breaking apart with the utmost determination, using all means and at all costs.”
“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is blatant political manipulation and a flagrant and serious violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Deng said. “In response to the US-Taiwanese collusion and provocation, China’s counterattack is quite natural.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting was held on Thursday evening but gave no information on which countries attended. Earlier Thursday, China canceled a meeting of foreign ministers with Japan to protest the G-7’s statement that there was no justification for the exercises.
The two ministers were attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
China previously summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi’s visit. The speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting President Tsai Ing-wen and holding other public events. She traveled to South Korea and then to Japan. Both countries host US military bases and could be drawn into a conflict involving Taiwan.
The Chinese drills involve troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistics support force, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
They are believed to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms, with Beijing announcing six exercise areas around the island.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the drills on Thursday, saying, “I really hope Beijing doesn’t manufacture a crisis or look for a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity.” We, countries around the world, believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.
US law requires the government to treat threats against Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “grave concern”.
The exercises are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996.
Taiwan has put its military on high alert and held civil defense drills, but the general mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and the fishermen remained in port to avoid the Chinese drills.
In the northern port of Keelung, Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim on Thursday, saying he was not worried.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” Lu said.