Monday August 15, 2022

Missiles fired from Chinese coast amid Taiwan tensions

China fired multiple ballistic missiles in the direction of Taiwan this morning, four of which flew directly over capital city Taipei in an unprecedented escalation, as it continues to carry out the largest ever military drills in the seas and skies surrounding the self-ruled island.

The country also imposed sanctions on US House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” visit to Taiwan, said the Chinese foreign ministry.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken slammed China’s military exercises saying there was no justification for Beijing’s “extreme disproportionate and escalatory” response.

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He said that China’s military exercises around Taiwan and the firing of missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone represent a “significant escalation”.

The statement came as Ms Pelosi reasserted America’s support for Taiwan, saying China will not be able to isolate the island by preventing US officials from travelling there.

Ms Pelosi, who is in Japan today for the final leg of her Asia tour, nonetheless added that her trip to the region was “not about changing the status quo in Taiwan”.

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China summons Canadian diplomat over G7 statement on Taiwan

China’s foreign ministry said that it summoned Beijing-based Canadian diplomat Jim Nickel over Canada’s participation in a statement issued by the foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations.

This is the latest in a string of diplomatic complaints made by Beijing after the G7 called on China on Wednesday to resolve tension around the Taiwan Strait in a peaceful manner.

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Chinese vice foreign minister Xie Feng summoned Mr Nickel yesterday and urged Canada to “immediately correct its mistakes” on the issue of Taiwan or “bear all consequences”, according to the Chinese foreign ministry statement published today.

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China sends 100 warplanes to Taiwan drills

More than 100 warplanes and 10 warships have taken part in live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the past two days, said China today.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called “joint blockage operations” taking place in six zones off the coast of Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.

The military’s Eastern Theater Command also fired new versions of missiles it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.”

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/11/GettyImages-1242313496.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp" srcset="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/11/GettyImages-1242313496.jpg?quality=75&width=640&auto=webp&crop=982:726,smart 640w" alt="

Three French-made Mirage 2000 fighter jets taxi on a runway in front of a hangar at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu on 5 August 2022

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Three French-made Mirage 2000 fighter jets taxi on a runway in front of a hangar at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu on 5 August 2022

(AFP via Getty Images)

Those included projectiles fired over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major ratcheting up of China’s threats to annex the island by force.

The drills, which Xinhua described as being held on an “unprecedented scale,” are China’s response to a visit this week by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

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Full story: How airlines are cancelling and re-routing flights amid Chinese drills

Several airlines have cancelled or re-routed flights to Taipei this week, as China carries out its unprecedented military drills surrounding Taiwan.

Read the details in this report from my colleague Lucy Thackray:

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China fires ballistic missiles diectly over Taipei in major escalation

China fired multiple ballistic missiles in the direction of Taiwan on Friday morning, four of which flew over capital city Taipei in an unprecedented escalation, as it continues to carry out the largest ever military drills in the seas and skies surrounding the self-ruled island.

The Taiwanese defence ministry confirmed the firing of missiles over its airspace in the capital but added that the projectiles were high in the atmosphere and did not constitute any threat.

Officials have not provided the details of the flight paths due to intelligence concerns.

The launch of missiles was confirmed by Japan’s defence ministry which also reported that as many as four missiles flew over Taipei.

Tokyo, which has been monitoring the military drills announced by Beijing to run until Sunday, said that five of the nine missiles that flew towards its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone.

My colleague Arpan Rai reports:

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White House summons Chinese ambassador for rebuke on Taiwan response – report

The White House summoned Chinese ambassador Qin Gang yesterday to condemn Beijing’s escalating actions against Taiwan and reiterate that the US does not want a crisis in the region, the Washington Post reported.

“After China’s actions overnight, we summoned Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche him about (China’s) provocative actions,” White House spokesman John Kirby told the outlet.

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/10/GettyImages-1412939554.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp" srcset="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/10/GettyImages-1412939554.jpg?quality=75&width=640&auto=webp&crop=982:726,smart 640w" alt="

National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House on 4 August 2022 in Washington, DC

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National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby answers questions during the daily briefing at the White House on 4 August 2022 in Washington, DC

(Getty Images)

China has itself sanctioned US House speaker Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in response to what it called her “vicious” and “provocative” actions, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

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Analysis: Japanese backing for military build-up likely to rise after China’s missiles

China’s firing of missiles into waters less than 160km (100 miles) from Japan in a display of might after Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan will likely bolster public support for a military build-up aimed at defence against Japan’s big neighbour.

“It clearly shows that if anything happened with Taiwan that we will be affected,” said Taro Kono, a senior ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker and former foreign and defence minister.

“The tide has clearly turned in Japan,” he added, when asked whether the public would back higher military spending.

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/10/GettyImages-1242313310.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp" srcset="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/10/GettyImages-1242313310.jpg?quality=75&width=640&auto=webp&crop=982:726,smart 640w" alt="

A US-made C-130 aircraft prepares to land on a runway at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu on 5 August 2022

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A US-made C-130 aircraft prepares to land on a runway at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu on 5 August 2022

(AFP via Getty Images)

Defence is a divisive issue in Japan, which, as a legacy of World War Two, has a pacifist constitution and an enduring public wariness about entanglement in US-led wars.

China’s unprecedented missile launches into Japan’s exclusive economic zone came as prime minister Fumio Kishida’s government prepares to publish a defence budget request for a significant increase in spending this month.

“The military balance has greatly changed around Taiwan,” said retired admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, who served as chief of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces’ Joint Staff for five years until 2019.

“I hope defence budget discussions will get serious.”

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China sanctions US House speaker

China has announced unspecified sanctions on US House speaker Nancy Pelosi for her visit earlier this week to Taiwan.

A Chinese foreign ministry statement said today that Ms Pelosi had disregarded China’s concerns and resolute opposition to her visit to the self-ruled island, which Beijing claims.

The Chinese statement called Ms Pelosi’s visit provocative and said it undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It said that sanctions would be imposed on her and her immediate family but did not say what they would be. Such sanctions are generally mostly symbolic in nature.

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US, Russia China take part in talks with SE Asian nations

US secretary of state Antony Blinken joined the foreign ministers of Russia and China at a meeting today with top diplomats from Southeast Asia at a time when the global powers are riven by tensions.

The East Asia Summit of the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings in Cambodia’s capital was the first time the three men were scheduled to take part in the same forum.

It came a day after WNBA star Brittney Griner was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison by Russia in a politically charged case amid antagonisms over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/09/GettyImages-1242313168.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp" srcset="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/09/GettyImages-1242313168.jpg?quality=75&width=640&auto=webp&crop=982:726,smart 640w" alt="

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) attend the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meeting during the 55th Asean Foreign Minsters’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on 5 August 2022

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Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) attend the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers meeting during the 55th Asean Foreign Minsters’ Meeting in Phnom Penh on 5 August 2022

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

China, meantime, has shown outrage over US House speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s visit this week to Taiwan — a self-governing island Beijing claims as its own — and launched show-of-force military exercises in response.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi patted Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on the shoulder as he entered the room and gave the already-seated Lavrov a quick wave before taking his own seat. Lavrov waved back in response.

Mr Blinken, who entered the room last, did not even glance at Lavrov as he took his own seat about a half-dozen chairs away, or at Wang who was seated farther down the same table as Mr Lavrov.

Ahead of the Phnom Penh talks, the US State Department indicated Mr Blinken had no plans to meet one-on-one with either man during the course of the meetings.

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Pelosi calls for better relationship with China to work on ‘longer-term challenge’

As Nancy Pelosi wrapped her Asia trip, she called on “the two big countries” — the US and China — to communicate in areas such as climate and other global issues.

“It isn’t about our visit determining what the US-China relationship is. It’s a much bigger and longer-term challenge and once again, we have to recognize that we have to work together on certain areas.”

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China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan, says Pelosi as she wraps up Asia trip

China will not isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from travelling there, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today in Tokyo as she wrapped up her Asia tour highlighted by a visit to Taipei that infuriated China.

The Chinese have tried to isolate Taiwan, Ms Pelosi said, including most recently by preventing the self-governing island from joining the World Health Organization.

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

Nancy Pelosi

Ms Pelosi called the contention “ridiculous” and said that her trip to Taiwan was not intended to change the status quo for the island but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.

<img src="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/08/GettyImages-1242313387.jpg?quality=75&width=982&height=726&auto=webp" srcset="https://static.independent.co.uk/2022/08/05/08/GettyImages-1242313387.jpg?quality=75&width=640&auto=webp&crop=982:726,smart 640w" alt="

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo on 5 August 2022, at the end of her Asian tour, which included a visit to Taiwan

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US House speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a press conference at the US Embassy in Tokyo on 5 August 2022, at the end of her Asian tour, which included a visit to Taiwan

(AFP via Getty Images)

“Our friendship with Taiwan is a strong one. It is bipartisan in the House and in the Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan,” she said.

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