Sanctions imposed on Pelosi by China over 'provocative actions' in visiting Taiwantext_fields
Taipei: For taking "vicious and provocative actions" by visiting Taiwan, China's government has announced sanctions against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even as large-scale military operations continue around the island. State media reported on Friday afternoon the sanctions that will also target immediate relatives of Pelosi.
"Pelosi … insists on sneaking away from Taiwan, seriously interferes in China's internal affairs, seriously undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle and seriously threatens peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait," it said.
The US earlier condemned China's launch of ballistic missiles around Taiwan as an "overreaction" during major live-fire exercises as several Chinese ships and aircraft crossed the median line again. China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) launched aggressive military demonstrations on Thursday as a response to Pelosi's Taiwan visit, raising tensions across East Asia.
PLA Air Force and Navy personnel amounting to hundreds were a part of the exercise in six zones around Taiwan and have encroached into its territorial seas.
On Thursday, at least 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles were fired near or over Taiwan. Meanwhile, dozens of warplanes and ships have crossed the unofficial border in the Taiwan Strait, the median line which is one of the world's busiest transportation routes.
Taiwan's Ministry of Defense announced on Friday that several PLA ships and aircraft had crossed the median line in the morning. The ministry said aircraft and ships were sent to monitor the situation and land-based missile systems were deployed.
"Adhering to the principle of preparing for war and not seeking war, the national army will work together to firmly defend the sovereignty and national security," it said.
John Kirby, the White House spokesman had earlier said that Pelosi's visit was used by China as a pretext to increase its provocative military action and had "chosen to overreact". He said "the temperature's pretty high" but tensions "can come down very easily by just having the Chinese stop these very aggressive military drills".
Kirby, in an MSNBC interview on Thursday, said, "We've been watching this very, very closely." He also spoke of the risk posed by the drills, saying: "One of the things that's troublesome about exercises like this or missile launches like this is … the risk of a mistake that could lead to some sort of conflict."
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told a meeting of Asian diplomats on Friday that China's response was "flagrantly provocative". Speaking at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, Blinken said China had tried to intimidate not only Taiwan, but its neighbours as well, an official said.
After the Japanese government said that at least five missiles had landed in its exclusive economic zone, the prime minister called for an immediate cease to the exercises.
Taiwan's Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said on Friday that China is unilaterally subverting the world's busiest waterway with military exercises. China is "an evil neighbour flexing its muscles on our doorstep," Su said.
Taiwan condemned the drills as "irrational actions that undermine regional peace." Some missile trajectories were confirmed to have passed over Taiwan's main island but said they took an extra atmospheric path and did not pose a threat.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer calculated that the missiles were about 200 km (125 mi) in the air when they flew over land.
Foreign governments and multilateral bodies like the G7 and EU have sharply criticized these exercises. Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have appealed for calm. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, soon after meeting with Pelosi on Friday said the exercises were "a serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens".
As Pelosi closed off her Asia tour, she said the US would "not allow" China to isolate Taiwan. "They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there," she told reporters in Tokyo.
She defended her trip despite some criticism that it caused increased tension without any commensurate benefit. "This isn't about me, this is about Taiwan," she said. "This is about saying let us celebrate Taiwan."
On Friday, China's foreign ministry called on Japanese, European and European Union representatives to submit "solemn representations" over their statements.
State media reported that China's vice foreign minister Deng Li accused them of having "distorted facts and reversed black and white", with their "wanton interference in China's internal affairs".
The statement reiterated China's claims that foreign governments uphold the "One China" principle, a domestic Chinese policy that outlines its geopolitical claim on Taiwan. Various governments have their own China policies that give some recognition to Beijing's position but do not always recognize Taiwan's claim. The US for instance, says Taiwan's status is unresolved, according to AFP.
PLA drills will continue through the weekend. The six identified zones surround Taiwan and in some places overlap with Taiwan's territorial waters, which extend 12 miles from its coastline. Non-PLA aircraft and sea vessels have been warned to stay away from the areas, some of which are close to major shipping ports and flight paths.
The exercises prompted Korean Air and Singapore Airlines to cancel flights to and from Taipei on Friday, while the Korean carrier cancelled flights on Saturday and delayed flights on Sunday. It is estimated by the Taiwanese authorities that around 900 flights will be affected by the need to reroute, and access to ports has been closed, prompting a blockade.
Military analysts told Beijing's state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday that the aim was to contain the island and contain its pro-independence forces.
"The purpose is to show that the PLA [People's Liberation Army] is capable of controlling all the exits of the Taiwan island, which will be a great deterrent to 'Taiwan independence' secessionist forces," said Zhang Junshe, a senior researcher at China's naval research institute.
According to analysts, the Chinese leadership was keen to make a show of strength ahead of a ruling party meeting this autumn, when President Xi Jinping is expected to win an unprecedented third term in power, but at least for now, China did not aim to escalate the situation beyond control.
An associate professor of political science at Taiwan's National Sun Yat-Sen University, Titus Chen, said: "The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war."