BEIJING (AP) — China said Friday that more than 100 fighter jets and 10 warships have participated in live-fire military exercises around Taiwan in the past two days, and announced sanctions against the speaker of the House of Representatives. from the United States. Nancy Pelosi on her visit to the autonomous island earlier this week.
The official Xinhua news agency said on Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were 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 missiles that it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.”
Those included projectiles fired over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officials told state media, in a major escalation of China’s threats to annex the island by force.
The drills, which Xinhua described as being conducted on an “unprecedented scale,” are China’s response to a visit this week by Pelosi to Taiwan. She is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
China announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and her family. Typically, such sanctions are mostly symbolic in nature.
A statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Pelosi had ignored China’s serious concerns and firm opposition to her visit. He called Pelosi’s visit provocative and said it undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
China opposes Taiwan having its own commitments to foreign governments.
On the Chinese coast off Taiwan, tourists gathered Friday to try to catch a glimpse of any military aircraft heading toward the exercise area.
Fighter jets could be heard flying overhead and tourists taking photos chanted, “Let’s take Taiwan back,” looking 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 threat to use force to bring it under its control has been highlighted in the propaganda of the ruling Communist Party, the education system and the totally state-controlled media for more than seven decades since the sides split amid civil war. in 1949.
The island’s residents are overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands that Taiwan be unified with the mainland under communist control.
On Friday morning, China sent military ships and warplanes through the median line of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s 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 military exercises began Thursday fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far to the south of Japan’s main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said that Japan protested the missile launches in China as “serious threats to the national security of Japan and the security of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s Defense Ministry later said it believes the other four missiles, fired from China’s southeast coast of Fujian, flew over Taiwan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that China’s military exercises targeting Taiwan pose a “serious problem” that threatens regional peace and security.
In Tokyo, where Pelosi is wrapping up her tour of Asia, she said China can’t stop US officials to visit Taiwan. Speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and his congressional delegation, Kishida said missile launches must “stop immediately.”
China said it had summoned European diplomats to the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven countries and the European Union criticizing Chinese military exercises that threaten Taiwan.
The Foreign Ministry said Friday that Vice Minister Deng Li made “solemn representations” about what he called “unbridled interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Deng said China would “prevent the country from being divided with the strongest determination, using all means and at any cost.”
“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is blatant political manipulation and a blatant and gross violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Deng said. “In response to the US-Taiwan collusion and provocation, China’s counterattack is natural.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting took place on Thursday night, but did not provide information on which countries participated. Earlier Thursday, China canceled a foreign ministers meeting with Japan to protest the G-7’s statement that there was no justification for the exercises.
Both ministers were attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
China had previously summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi’s visit. The speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen and celebration of other public events. He 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 exercises involve troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistic support force, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
They are believed to be the largest ever held near Taiwan geographically, with Beijing announcing six exercise zones surrounding the island.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the drills on Thursday, saying: “I very much hope that Beijing does not fabricate a crisis or find a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity. We, the 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 to Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “grave concern.”
The drills will take place from Thursday to Sunday and will include missile attacks on targets in the island’s north and south seas in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan leaders and voters held in 1995. and 1996.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and held civil defense exercises, but the general mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and the fishermen have stayed in port to avoid Chinese drills.
In the northern port of Keelung, Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim on Thursday and said he was not worried.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” Lu said.