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 news conference during a meeting with the League of Southeast Nations 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 against 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.
Beijing defended the military drills, saying they were “in accordance 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’ ». Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at a press conference.