Taiwan crisis: China imposes sanctions on Pelosi over ‘provocative actions’

China’s government has announced sanctions against the US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, for “vicious and provocative actions” in going to Taiwan, as major military activity around the island continues.

The sanctions, which also target Pelosi’s direct relatives, were reported by state media on Friday afternoon.

“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.

Earlier the US condemned China’s launch of ballistic missiles around Taiwan during major live-fire exercises as an “overreaction”, as multiple Chinese ships and planes again crossed the median line.

The aggressive military displays by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began on Thursday in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and have raised tensions across east Asia.

Hundreds of PLA air force and navy craft are involved in the exercises across six zones surrounding Taiwan and encroaching into its territorial seas. At least 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles were fired near or over Taiwan on Thursday, while dozens of warplanes and ships have made crossings over the median line, an unofficial border in the Taiwan strait, which is one of the world’s busiest transport routes.

‘We will defend ourselves’: Taiwan’s president issues warning to China – video

On Friday, Taiwan’s ministry of defence announced that multiple PLA ships and planes had crossed the median line during the morning. The ministry said it had dispatched aircraft and ships and deployed land-based missile systems to monitor the situation.

“Adhering to the principle of preparing for war and not seeking war, the national army will work together to firmly defend sovereignty and national security,” it said.

The White House spokesperson John Kirby earlier said China had used Pelosi’s visit 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”.

In an interview with MSNBC on Thursday, Kirby said: “We’ve been watching this very, very closely.” He also warned 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 actually lead to some sort of conflict.”

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told an Asian meeting of top diplomats on Friday that China’s reaction was “flagrantly provocative”. Blinken, speaking at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, said China had sought to intimidate not only Taiwan but neighbours, too, an official said.

Japan’s prime minister also called for an immediate halt to the exercises after his government said at least five missiles landed within its exclusive economic zone.

Taiwan’s premier, Su Tseng-chang on Friday said China was arbitrarily sabotaging the world’s busiest waterway with its military exercises. Su said China was an “evil neighbour flexing its muscles on our doorstep”.

Taiwan has condemned the exercises as “irrational actions that undermine regional peace”. It confirmed some missile trajectories went over the main island of Taiwan but said they took an extra atmospheric path and did not pose a threat. The astronomer Jonathan McDowell estimated they were about 200km (125 miles) in the air while flying over the landmass.

The drills have been harshly criticised by foreign governments and multilateral bodies including the G7 and the EU, while Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members have called for calm. Shortly after meeting with Pelosi on Friday, Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said the drills were a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”.

As she capped off her Asia tour, Pelosi 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 also defended her trip to Taiwan amid some criticism it contributed to the escalated tensions without a commensurate tangible benefit. “This isn’t about me, this is about Taiwan,” she said. “This is about saying let us celebrate Taiwan.”

But Beijing has doubled down on its rhetoric. On Friday, China’s foreign ministry summoned the Japanese, European and EU envoys to lodge “solemn representations” over their statements. According to state media, 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 repeated China’s claims that the “one China” principle – a domestic Chinese policy that outlines its geopolitical claim over Taiwan – was upheld by foreign governments. In reality, various governments have their own one China policies that afford some recognition of Beijing’s stance but do not always recognise the Taiwan claim. The US, for example, says Taiwan’s status is unresolved.

The PLA drills are scheduled to continue through the weekend. The six identified zones surround the island of Taiwan and in some places overlap with Taiwan’s territorial waters which extend 12 miles from its coastline. Non-PLA air and sea craft have been warned to stay out of the areas, some of which are near key shipping ports and flight paths.

China conducted ‘precision missile strikes’ on Thursday in waters off Taiwan’s coasts
China conducted ‘precision missile strikes’ on Thursday in waters off Taiwan’s coasts Photograph: AP

Korean Air and Singapore Airlines said they had cancelled flights to and from Taipei on Friday due to the exercises, with the Korean carrier also cancelling its Saturday flights and delaying Sunday flights.

Taiwan authorities estimate about 900 flights will be affected by the need to reroute, and have said the impeded access to ports in effect amounts to a blockade.

Military analysts on Thursday told Beijing’s state broadcaster CCTV that the goal was to practise a possible blockade of 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.

Analysts said the Chinese leadership was keen to project strength ahead of a crucial ruling party meeting this autumn at which the president, Xi Jinping, is expected to be given an unprecedented third term, but that China is not aiming to escalate the situation beyond its control – at least for now.

Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, said: “The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war.”

With Agence France-Presse


See also  Daily roundup: 'MBS badge lady' back on the streets sans mask; Xiaxue gets glared at after approaching her - and other top stories today