Japan slams China’s ‘grave’ military exercises over Taiwan; Nancy Pelosi wraps Asia visit in Tokyo

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SEOUL, Aug. 5 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday and called for China to stop its live-fire military exercises near Taiwan after five missiles landed in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

At a breakfast meeting with Pelosi and a congressional delegation, Kishida called the exercises a “grave problem” affecting national and regional security and called for the “immediate suspension” of the drills.

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Beijing reacted furiously to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week and kicked off a massive show of force in the waters and airspace around the democratic island on Thursday, including launching ballistic missiles into the waters nearby.

Japan’s defense ministry said Thursday that five Chinese missiles fell within its exclusive economic zone, an area that extends up to 200 nautical miles from the coast. It was the first time Chinese missiles have landed in the waters of the EEZ, the government said, with the closest reaching around 50 miles from the westernmost island of Yonaguni.

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Pelosi led a congressional delegation through Asia on a trip that began Monday in Singapore and included stops in Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea, where she visited the DMZ, before concluding in Japan.

Her arrival in Taipei on Tuesday night marked the first time a U.S. House speaker had traveled to the self-governing island since 1997.

China views the democratic island of 23 million as a wayward province and has vowed to retake it by force, if necessary.

Beijing has worked to exclude Taiwan diplomatically and block it from joining international organizations, but Pelosi said Friday that China cannot stop officials from visiting.

“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,” she said during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo on Friday.

“We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan,” she added. “They are not doing our travel schedule. The Chinese government is not doing that.”

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets with Taiwanese Legislative Vice President Yuan Tsai Chi-chang in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday. She was the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years. Photo courtesy of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi/Twitter
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The longtime California Democrat added that the delegation’s visit was “not about changing the status quo here in Asia and the status quo in Taiwan.”

Japan has also expressed growing alarm over China’s assertiveness in the region, and on Wednesday signed onto a joint statement by the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven economies that said the “threatening actions” from Beijing “risk unnecessary escalation.”

“There is no justification to use a visit as pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait,” it added.

Beijing responded by pulling Foreign Minister Wang Yi out of a scheduled meeting with Japanese counterpart Yoshimasa Hayashi at a regional summit in Cambodia on Thursday.

“Japan joined other members of G7 and the EU in issuing a joint statement, which contains groundless accusations against China, confounds black and white and tries to justify the U.S.’s infringement on China’s sovereignty,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing on Thursday.

“This has caused a public outcry among the Chinese people.”

China continued its aggressive military display around Taiwan on Friday, with multiple aircraft and vessels crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait in a rare incursion, the island’s defense ministry said.

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Beijing has imposed seven live-fire zones encircling the democratic island in what its state media has called “unprecedented” military exercises slated to run until Sunday.