Pelosi met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday morning, with their attention focused on the Taiwan Strait, where China is conducting air and sea exercises to protest the US speaker’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week.
China has in the past fired missiles into the waters surrounding Taiwan — a democratic island of 24 million that the Chinese Communist Party considers its territory even though it has never controlled it — most notably during the decade’s Taiwan Strait crisis of 1990.
But rockets flying over the island marked a major escalation, with US officials warning that more may follow.
“We expected that China might take steps like this — in fact, I described them to you in quite some detail just the other day,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said on Thursday.
“We also expect that these actions will continue and that the Chinese will continue to retaliate in the coming days,” he told reporters at the White House.
China began military exercises around the island on Thursday, firing multiple missiles into waters near northeastern and southwestern Taiwan.
A Chinese military expert confirmed to state broadcaster CCTV that the conventional missiles flew over the main island of Taiwan, including airspace covered by Taiwanese missile defenses.
“We hit the targets under the observation of the US Aegis combat system, which means that the Chinese military has solved its difficulties in hitting long-range targets in water,” said Lt. Gen. Meng Xiangqing, a professor of strategy at the National Defense University. in Beijing.
In a statement late Thursday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said the missiles traveled above the atmosphere and therefore posed no danger to the island.
Authorities did not activate airstrike warnings because they predicted the missiles would land in waters east of Taiwan, the ministry said. The ministry added that it would not release further information about the missile’s trajectory to protect intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Five ballistic missiles are believed to have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, including four believed to have flown over Taiwan, Japan’s defense ministry said on Thursday.
“This is a serious problem concerning the security of Japan and the security of its citizens. We strongly condemn it,” Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters during a news conference.
CNN’s Gawon Bae and Yong Xiong in Seoul, Emiko Jozuka in Tokyo, Eric Cheung in Taipei and Sam Fossum in Washington contributed to this report.