Japan asks China to stop military exercises off Taiwan

Japan’s leader on Friday called on China to stop military exercises around Taiwan, a day after five Chinese missiles launched during the drills landed in waters claimed by Japan. is exclusively for economic purposes.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called for an “immediate halt” to the drills, which he said had “a serious impact on the peace and stability of the region and the world”, Kyodo News reported. He spoke to reporters after meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose high-profile visit to Taiwan this week angered China and led to the drills.

Ms. Pelosi said that China “may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or engaging in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan”.

At least 11 Chinese missiles landed in the waters north, south and east of Taiwan on Thursday, the first day of the exercise, which is scheduled to end on Sunday. The People’s Liberation Army said it had “precisely hit all of its targets”. Japan says five of them have fallen within its exclusive economic zone, outside its territorial waters.

The drills are likely to resume on Friday morning. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said Chinese ships and planes had crossed the unofficial median line in the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China.

South Korea’s defense ministry said it has deployed its own aircraft and ships and deployed surface-to-surface missile systems to monitor the situation.

China claims Taiwan, a self-governing democracy off its southern coast, as its own territory, and considers visits by American politicians an affront. Ms. Pelosi met with Taiwan’s president, lawmakers and human rights activists on Wednesday, praising the island’s commitment to democracy.

Besides expressing Beijing’s displeasure with her visit, the drills – scheduled to be held in six areas surrounding Taiwan – appear to be designed as a test run. to blockade the island as part of a potential invasion. Chinese leaders, including the current one, Xi Jinping, have long said that Taiwan must eventually be brought under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.

Criticism of China’s actions in the Taiwan Strait by the United States and its allies apparently prompted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to walk out of a gala dinner in the Cambodian capital on Thursday night, just before Diplomats attending a regional conference were seated. Japan’s foreign minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, has just made a formal protest to China when Mr. Wang is leaving.

Earlier on the same day, Mr. Wang accused the US of instigating the situation around Taiwan. “It was the United States that stirred up the trouble; It is the United States that created the crisis and it is also the United States that continues to escalate tensions,” Wang told foreign ministers attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations forum in Phnom Penh.

China’s exercises have put the United States in a fragile position. While the Pentagon wants to project power in the region, it is also sensitive to the risk that a military miscalculation near the island could trigger an unintended escalation.

The Biden administration intends to avoid an incident like the 2001 collision between an American P-3 intelligence plane and a Chinese fighter jet over waters off China’s southern coast. The American plane was forced to land on Hainan Island, a southern province of China, and more than 20 crew members were detained for 11 days. The plane was stripped by China and eventually returned to the United States in crates.

John Kirby, a national security spokesman, said on Thursday that the Pentagon had ordered the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to “stay stationed” in the area, but a short distance from the entrance to the Taiwan Strait. a distance. That represents a more cautious move than one made during the Taiwan crisis in 1996, when President Bill Clinton moved an aircraft carrier closer to the strait.

The United States will resume “standard air and sea routes through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks,” Kirby added, a sign that the White House wants the exercises. China ends first.

In Washington, a former CIA analyst, John Culver, said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies meeting on Thursday that a new low had been reached in the already strained relationship between the United States and the United States. Ky and China.

“We are in a new era,” said Culver, who served as national intelligence officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council from 2015 to 2018. “It’s not the mid-90s anymore. . The context is completely different”.

On Friday morning, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet posted Twitter photo of fighter aircraft on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan during what it said was “flying operations” in the Philippine Sea, southeast of Taiwan.

It was not clear on Friday how the rest of China’s drills would play out. China’s Eastern Theater Command, which includes Taiwan, says it is mobilizing more than 100 fighters, bombers and other aircraft, as well as more than 10 destroyers and frigates. , according to Reuters.

Ben Dooley contribution report.

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