China said on Friday that more than 100 planes and 10 warships have taken part in its live-fire military exercises around Taiwan in the past two days, and announced sanctions against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. , who visited the autonomous island this week.
China’s official news agency reported on Friday that fighter jets, bombers, destroyers and frigates were used in the so-called “joint blockade operations” in six areas off Taiwan’s coast. Beijing maintains that the island is part of its territory.
The eastern military command also tested new versions of missiles that it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.” Among them were projectiles that flew over the island and landed in the Pacific, military officials told state media, in a major escalation of Beijing’s threats to annex the territory by force.
The moves, which Xinhua described as on an “unprecedented scale,” are in response to a visit by Pelosi, the highest-ranking US politician to set foot in Taiwan in 25 years.
Separately, China announced unspecified sanctions against Pelosi and her family. These types of actions usually have a symbolic character.
In a statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Pelosi ignored China’s grave concerns and outright opposition to her trip. She called the act provocative and alleged that it undermines the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Beijing opposes Taiwan having relationships with foreign governments.
Tourists flocked to the Chinese coast off Taiwan on Friday to try to spot any military aircraft headed for the exercise area. Jets could be heard flying overhead as tourists took photos and chanted “Take Back Taiwan” looking out over the blue waters of the strait from Pingtan Island, a popular resort.
China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and the threat of resorting to force to bring it under its control has featured prominently in the propaganda of the ruling Communist Party, in the education system, and in the Chinese-controlled media. the state for seven decades, since its separation in the 1949 civil war.
The island’s inhabitants are overwhelmingly in favor of maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject Beijing’s demands for unification.
On Friday morning, China moved military ships and warplanes across the median line, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said, crossing what had been an unofficial de-escalation zone between the two sides for decades.
Five of the missiles fired by China since the start of the exercises fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, off Hateruma, an island in the extreme south of the archipelago, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. Japan protested these actions to China as “serious threats to national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s Defense Ministry later said it believes another four projectiles, fired off the coast of Fujian in southeastern China, flew over Taiwan.
Earlier in the day, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that Chinese military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan represent a “serious problem” that threatens peace and security in the region.
In Tokyo, the last stop on Pelosi’s Asian tour, the official said that Beijing cannot stop visits by high-ranking officials from her country to the island. Kishida, who spoke after his breakfast with Pelosi and the US delegation, said that the launch of missiles must be “immediately stopped”.
On the other hand, China said it had called for consultations with European diplomats in the country to protest the statements issued by the Group of Seven and the European Union, which criticized the threatening maneuvers of its army around Taiwan.
The Foreign Ministry said Friday that Vice Minister Deng Li made “solemn statements” about what he called “gratuitous interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Deng said that China “will prevent the division of the country with the strongest determination, using all means and at any cost.”
“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is blatant political manipulation and a gross violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Deng added. “In response to the collusion and provocation of the United States and Taiwan, China’s counterattack is natural.” “.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the meeting was held on Thursday night, but it did not reveal which countries participated. The day before, China canceled a foreign ministers’ meeting with Japan to protest the G7’s statement that the exercises were not justified.
Beijing had previously summoned US ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi’s visit. The senior official left the island on Wednesday after meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen and participating in other public events. She then traveled to South Korea and Japan, which have US military bases and could be drawn into a conflict with Taiwan.