BEIJING, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Beijing announced on Friday that it was halting cooperation with the United States in a number of areas, including dialogue between senior-level military commanders, in retaliation for the visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China’s foreign ministry also said in a statement that it was halting climate talks with the United States, as well as cooperation on cross-border crime prevention and on repatriating illegal migrants, among eight specific measures.
China’s military on Friday conducted air and sea combat drills to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan and continues “to test the troops’ joint combat capabilities”, it said in a statement on Friday.
The statement came on the official Weibo account of the Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
China’s firing of missiles during military drills around Taiwan was an unjustified escalation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, as Beijing said it would sanction House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi for visiting the island.
Washington has made it repeatedly clear to Beijing it does not seek a crisis, Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia as diplomatic ructions continued over Pelosi’s visit to the self-governed island that Beijing regards as its sovereign territory.
He said China’s actions were disproportionate and significant, and the United States was seriously concerned but would not be provoked, before adding “there was no possible justification for what they have done”.
China launched its largest ever military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after Pelosi enraged Beijing by making a solidarity trip to the island. The drills are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.
China’s foreign ministry announced on Friday that it would sanction Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions.
“Despite China’s serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China’s internal affairs, undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
On Thursday, China fired multiple missiles into waters surrounding Taiwan in an unprecedented escalation during live-fire exercises.
Japan’s defence ministry, which is tracking the exercises, first reported that as many as four of the missiles flew over Taiwan’s capital. It also said that five of nine missiles fired toward its territory landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), also a first, prompting a diplomatic protest by Tokyo.
Later, Taiwan’s defence ministry said the missiles were high in the atmosphere and constituted no threat. It gave no details of their flight paths, citing intelligence concerns.
Some Taipei residents, including Mayor Ko Wen-je, criticised the government for not putting out a missile alert, but one security expert said that could have been done to avoid stoking panic and playing into China’s hands.
Photo: A file photo of fighter jets on the deck of the Liaoning aircraft carrier commissioned into in Hong Kong, China. EPA/JEROME FAVRE