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BEIJING (AP) — China said it has summoned European diplomats to the country to protest statements issued by Group of Seven nations and the European Union criticizing threatening Chinese military exercises around Taiwan.
On Friday, the Foreign Ministry said Vice Minister Deng Li had made “solemn representations” over what it called “wanton interference in China’s internal affairs”.
China has sent navy ships and warplanes and launched missiles across the Taiwan Strait in response to a visit this week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which China considers its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
On the Chinese coast opposite Taiwan, tourists gathered on Friday to try to catch a glimpse of any military aircraft heading towards the exercise area. Warplanes could be heard flying overhead and photo-taking tourists chanted, “Let’s take Taiwan back,” gazing out into the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan Island, a popular scenic spot.
Five of the missiles fired by China landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone off Hateruma, an island in the southernmost part of Japan’s main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said Japan had protested the missile landings in China, calling them “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s Defense Ministry later said it believed the other four missiles, fired from China’s southeast coast of Fujian, flew over Taiwan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that Chinese military exercises targeting Taiwan posed a “serious problem” that threatens regional peace and security.
In Tokyo, where she ends her trip to Asia, Pelosi said China could not stop US officials from visiting Taiwan. Speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and his congressional delegation, Kishida said the missile launches must be “stopped immediately”.
Deng said China would “prevent the country from breaking apart with the utmost determination, using all means and at all costs.”
“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is blatant political manipulation and a flagrant and serious violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Deng said. “In response to US-Taiwanese collusion and provocation, China’s counterattack is only natural.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting was held on Thursday evening but gave no information on which countries attended. Earlier Thursday, China canceled a foreign ministers’ meeting with Japan to protest the G-7’s statement that there was no justification for the drills.
The two ministers were attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
China previously summoned US Ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi’s visit. The speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting President Tsai Ing-wen and holding other public events. She traveled to South Korea and then to Japan. Both countries host US military bases and could be drawn into a conflict involving Taiwan.
The Chinese drills involve troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistics support force, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
They are believed to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms, with Beijing announcing six exercise areas around the island.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the drills on Thursday, saying, “I really hope Beijing doesn’t manufacture a crisis or look for a pretext to increase its aggressive military activity.” We, countries around the world, believe that escalation serves no one and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests.
US law requires the government to treat threats against Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “grave concern”.
The exercises are due to run from Thursday to Sunday and include missile strikes on targets in the seas north and south of the island in an echo of the last major Chinese military drills aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996.
Taiwan has put its military on high alert and held civil defense drills, but the general mood remained calm on Friday. Flights were canceled or diverted and fishermen remained in port to avoid Chinese maneuvers.
In the northern port of Keelung, Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying his morning swim on Thursday, saying he was not worried.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” Lu said.
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