March 30, 2023

Taipei, Taiwan – China said on Friday it would cut cooperation with the United States on areas such as military relations and climate change by imposing sanctions on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Beijing stepped up retaliation on her visit to Taiwan.

The new measures were announced as military exercises launched furiously by Beijing in the wake of her visit earlier this week sent planes, ships and missiles threateningly close to the tiny island republic to second day.

The unannounced visit by the US delegation to Taiwan sparked a escalating crisis, raising fears of conflict in the region and fueling tensions between Washington, its allies and Beijing.

Beijing has announced it will cancel military phone calls between regional commanders, defense meetings and international criminal cooperation with the US, and will no longer participate in talks on maritime security and climate change. Earlier, China took personal action against Pelosi, announcing sanctions against the speaker and her family in response to what Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called it “extraordinary challenges”.

The unspecified sanctions, China’s latest retaliation for the short trip to the self-ruled island it claims as its own territory, came as Pelosi vowed not to let Beijing isolate Taiwan, while Washington and its allies called for de-escalation.

“They may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there,” Pelosi said Friday in Japan, the last stop on her Asia tour.

China’s response so far has largely focused on the island of 23 million people just across the Taiwan Strait.

Meanwhile, Beijing began the second day of military exercises surrounding the island on Friday morning. apparently sending dozens of military vessels and hundreds of aircraft across the median line in the strait that has been an unofficial security zone between China and Taiwan for decades.

A day earlier it launched ballistic missiles, at least one of which it boasted had flown directly over the island and five of which Japan said landed in its exclusive economic zone waters.

Taiwan’s defense ministry has neither confirmed nor denied that missiles were fired over Taiwan. If true, it would mark the first time Chinese missiles have flown over the self-ruled island.

The Ministry of Defense criticized the exercises as “highly challenging”.

“The Ministry of National Defense pointed out that the Chinese military’s military exercises, whether they launch ballistic missiles or deliberately cross the middle line of the strait, are highly provocative actions,” the military news agency reported on Friday, adding that the ministry said it was committed to don’t escalate the situation.

Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken also condemned China’s ongoing drills on Friday, calling them a “significant escalation”.

“China chose to overreact and use Speaker Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” Blinken told a media briefing during a meeting with the League of Nations Southeast Asia in Cambodia.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response.”

The exercises, which started on Thursday, are expected to last until Sunday.

The Chinese Communist Party has never ruled Taiwan, but claims it as its own territory. While Chinese President Xi Jinping sees Taiwan’s “reunification” with the mainland as a historical inevitability, recent polls show that the majority of Taiwanese do not wish to become part of China, but want to maintain the status quo.

China has repeatedly warned the US about the visit, which it said “seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The White House says the speaker’s visit was consistent with US policy on Taiwan and should not be used to precipitate a crisis.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called on China on Thursday night to “act with reason and exercise restraint”. “We call on the international community to support democratic Taiwan and stop these unilateral, senseless military exercises,” she said in a statement on her official Facebook page.

Taiwan’s neighbors and US allies in the region have expressed growing concerns about China’s show of aggression.

Japan on Friday called on China to immediately stop its drills. “China’s actions this time have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

Responding to questions about Chinese missiles entering Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying defended China’s drills, saying they were “in line with international law and international practice.”

“Regarding the ‘exclusive economic zone’ you mentioned, you should know, and the Japanese side should also know, that China and Japan have not yet demarcated the relevant waters, so there is no ‘Japanese exclusive economic zone’ ». he said at a regular press briefing.

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