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China halts climaate, military ties with US over Pelosi's Taiwan visit
Beijing: Following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent Taiwan visit, China announced on Friday that it was halting cooperation with the United States in a number of areas, including dialogue between senior-level military commanders and climate change.
The Foreign Ministry said dialogue between the US and Chinese regional commanders and defence department heads would be cancelled along with talks on military maritime safety. Cooperation on returning illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, illegal drugs and climate change will be suspended, the ministry said.
The measures announced Friday are the latest in a promised series of steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island China claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary.
Meanwhile, China was also holding threatening military exercises in six zones off Taiwan's coasts that it says will run through Sunday. Missiles have also been fired over Taiwan, defence officials told state media.
The US House Speaker is the highest-ranking US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
China opposes the self-governing island having its own contact with foreign governments, but its response to the Pelosi visit has been unusually vociferous and belligerent.
China said Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships have taken part in the live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the past two days.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called "joint blockage operations."
The military's Eastern Theater Command also fired new versions of missiles it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait "with precision."
The Rocket Force also fired projectiles over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major ratcheting up of China's threats to attack and invade the island.
The drills, which Xinhua described as being held on an "unprecedented scale," are China's most strident response to Pelosi's visit.
Dialogue and exchanges between China and the US, particularly on military matters and economic exchanges, have generally been halting at best. Climate change and fighting trade in illegal drugs such as fentanyl were, however, areas where they had found common cause, reported ABC News.
China's insistence that Taiwan is its territory and its threat to use force to bring it under its control have featured highly in ruling Communist Party propaganda, the education system and the entirely state-controlled media for more than seven decades since the sides were divided amid civil war in 1949.
Taiwan residents overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China's demands that the island unify with the mainland under Communist control.
On Friday morning, China sent military ships and warplanes across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry said, crossing what had for decades been an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan, reported ABC News.
Five of the missiles fired by China since the military exercises began Thursday landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan's main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said.
He said Japan protested the missile landings to China as "serious threats to Japan's national security and the safety of the Japanese people."
Japan's Defense Ministry later said they believe four other missiles fired from China's southeastern coast of Fujian flew over Taiwan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday that China's military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a "grave problem" that threatens regional peace and security.
In Tokyo, where Pelosi is winding up her Asia trip, she said China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan. Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and her congressional delegation, said the missile launches need to be "stopped immediately."
China said it summoned European diplomats in the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the European Union criticizing the Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan.
Its Foreign Ministry on Friday said Vice Minister Deng Li made "solemn representations" over what he called "wanton interference in China's internal affairs."
The ministry said the meeting was held Thursday night but gave no information on which countries participated. Earlier Thursday, China cancelled a foreign ministers' meeting with Japan to protest the G-7 statement that there was no justification for the exercises.
Both ministers were attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
China had earlier summoned U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi's visit. The speaker left Taiwan on Wednesday after meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen and holding other public events.
She traveled on to South Korea and then Japan. Both countries host US. military bases and could be drawn into a conflict involving Taiwan.
The Chinese exercises involve troops from the navy, air force, rocket force, strategic support force and logistic support force, according to Xinhua.
They are believed to be the largest held near Taiwan in geographical terms and the closest in proximity -- within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the island, reported ABC News.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday called the drills a "significant escalation" and said he has urged Beijing to back down.
The drills are 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 alert and staged civil defense drills, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and fishermen have remained in port to avoid the Chinese drills, reported ABC News. (ANI)