The United States, Australia and Japan have urged China to cease its military drills near Taiwan in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island nation.

Pelosi was the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years on August 2 despite a slew of threats from Beijing, which considers the island as its own.

After Pelosi’s arrival, China raised tensions by launching military exercises in the air and seas around Taiwan, including firing ballistic missiles close to the island.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday said that its allies and partners across the region are “deeply concerned about the destabilising and dangerous actions”.

“Maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is vital,” he added. “What happens in the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways, it affects the entire world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway.”

Blinken, who was speaking at a virtual press conference, stated that nearly 90% of the world’s largest ships will be passing through the Taiwan Strait this year.

“Since their missile launches, Beijing has taken an irresponsible step of a different kind – They’ve shut down eight different areas where our two countries have been able to work together,” he added. “Those include several military-to-military channels which are vital for avoiding miscommunication and avoiding crisis, but also cooperation on transnational crime and counternarcotics, which help keep people in the United States, China, and beyond safe.”

Blinken was referring to China’s decision to cut off contacts with the US on vital matters, including defence meetings and a crucial climate cooperation agreement.

“The world’s largest carbon emitter is now refusing to engage on combatting the climate crisis,” the US secretary of state said. “Suspending climate cooperation doesn’t punish the United States; it punishes the world, particularly the developing world.”

Blinken said that the White House will keep its communication with China open “with the intent of avoiding escalation due to misunderstanding or miscommunication”.

Washington will continue to support Taipei and cross-strait peace, he added.

Japan urges China to stop military exercises

Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa on Friday reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

His statement came a day after Japan said that five Chinese missiles landed in its waters as well.

“It is a grave incident concerning the security of Japan and safety of its people that the ballistic missiles launched by China landed in the sea close to Japan, including its EEZ [Exclusive Economic Zone],” he said, urging China to stop the military exercises immediately.

He was speaking at the 12th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Cambodia’s Phnom Penh.

‘Disproportionate and destabilising’: Australia

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong on Friday also said that her country is “deeply concerned about the launch of ballistic missiles by China into waters around Taiwan’s coastline”.

“These exercises are disproportionate and destabilising,” she added. “This is a serious matter for the region, including for our close strategic partner, Japan. Australia shares the region’s concerns about this escalating military activity, especially the risks of miscalculation. We urge restraint and de-escalation.”

She also urged China to not change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation very closely, and we are talking to allies and partners,” she added.


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