China’s military drills around Taiwan in response to the US house speaker’s visit to the self-ruled island is a disproportionate and unjustified escalation, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday.
Blinken said the United States has made it repeatedly clear to China it does not seek a crisis, adding that Washington and its allies were seriously concerned by its latest actions.
China had warned that countermeasures against Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be resolute, strong, and effective. The warning was not heeded by the US.
Subsequently the country has been conducting the largest-ever military exercises in the Taiwan Strait, including launching live missiles around the island it claims as part of its sovereign territory.
”No justification for military escalation”
“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of an ASEAN meeting, adding, “now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level.”
He emphasised that the United States would not take actions to provoke a crisis, but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.
Blinken is in Cambodia meeting counterparts from Southeast Asian and 27 other countries, including China, Japan, Britain, the European Union, and India. He did not meet with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is hosting the gathering, earlier called for restraint from all sides and said there was a risk of miscalculation and conflict between major powers.
Blinken said ASEAN and other Asian officials were seriously concerned that actions by China would destabilise the entire region.
“The last thing that countries in the region want is to see differences between mainland China and Taiwan…to be resolved by force, Blinken said after Friday’s East Asia Summit.
The Chinese have accused Pelosi of violating its claimed sovereignty over Taiwan. Following her departure from the island on Wednesday they began the drills. Commentators have noted that waiting until Pelosi had left helped avoid immediate clashes with the US.
However, the exercises are likely to significantly exceed the scale and intensity of those staged during the previous crisis in the strait 26 years ago, risking undermining the fragile stability of the relationship between China and Taiwan.
China has decided to sanction US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.
“Despite China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.