BEIJING — China said on Friday it was canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on a range of issues from climate change to military relations to the war on drugs in response to a visit this week to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The measures, taken amid worsening relations between Beijing and Washington, are the latest in a promised series of moves aimed at punishing the US for allowing visits to the island, which it claims as its own territory that can be annexed by force if necessary. China on Thursday began threatening military exercises in six zones off the coast of Taiwan, which it said would continue until Sunday.
Missiles were also fired over Taiwan, Defense Ministry officials told state media. China opposes the self-governing island having its own contacts with foreign governments, but its reaction to Pelosi’s visit was unusually vocal.
The State Department said the dialogue between US and Chinese regional commanders and defense chiefs would be cancelled, as well as talks on military maritime security.
Cooperation on the return of illegal migrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, drug trafficking and climate change will be suspended, the ministry said.
China said on Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships had taken part in military exercises around Taiwan over the past two days, as it announced largely symbolic sanctions against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her family over her visit to Taiwan. earlier this week.
The official Xinhua news agency said on Friday that fighter jets, bombers, destroyers and frigates were being used in what it called “joint interdiction operations”.
The Eastern Military Command also released new versions of the missiles, which it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait with “high precision.”
The missile force also fired projectiles over Taiwan into the Pacific Ocean, military officers told state media, heightening China’s threats to attack and invade the island.
The drills, which Xinhua called “unprecedented,” are China’s sharpest response yet to Pelassi’s visit. The speaker is the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
Dialogue and exchanges between China and the US, especially on military matters and economic exchanges, are generally halting at best. However, climate change and combating the trade in illegal drugs such as fentanyl have been areas where they have found common ground, and Beijing’s suspension of cooperation could have significant implications for efforts to make progress on these issues.
On China’s coast opposite Taiwan, tourists gathered Friday to try to spot any military aircraft heading toward the exercise.
Fighter jets could be heard flying overhead and tourists taking photos chanted, “Let’s take back Taiwan” as they looked out over the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan Island, a popular scenic spot in Fujian province.
Pelosi’s visit has stirred emotions among the Chinese public, and the government’s response “makes us feel that our motherland is very powerful and gives us confidence that Taiwan’s return is an unstoppable trend,” said Wang Lu, a tourist from neighboring Zhejiang province.
China is “a powerful country and will not allow anyone to insult its own territory,” said Liu Bolin, a high school student who visited the island.
His mother, Zheng Zhidan, was somewhat more circumspect.
“We are compatriots and we hope to live in peace,” Zheng said. “We must live peacefully with each other.”
China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and its threat to use force to bring it under its control have figured prominently in the propaganda of the ruling Communist Party, education system and fully state-controlled media for more than seven decades since , as the parties split amid the civil conflict. war in 1949.
Taiwanese overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island be reunited with the communist-controlled mainland.
China sent warships and warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said, crossing what for decades has been an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan.
Five missiles fired by China since the start of military exercises on Thursday fell 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 in China as “a serious threat to Japan’s national security and the security of the Japanese people.”
Japan’s defense ministry later said it believed four other missiles fired from the southeast coast of China’s Fujian province had flown over Taiwan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan pose a “serious problem” that threatens peace and security in the region.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China’s actions were in line with “international law and international practice,” although she did not provide any evidence.
“Regarding the exclusive economic zone, China and Japan have not carried out maritime delimitation in their respective waters, so there is no such thing as Japan’s EEZ,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.
In Tokyo, where Pelosi is wrapping up her trip to Asia, she said China could not stop US officials from visiting Taiwan. Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and her congressional delegation, said the missile launches must “stop immediately.”
China said it had summoned European diplomats to the country to protest statements by the G7 industrialized nations and the European Union criticizing Chinese military exercises around Taiwan.
China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that Vice Minister Deng Li made “solemn statements” about what he called “unreasonable interference in China’s internal affairs”.
Deng said China will “prevent the country from splitting with the firmest determination, using all means and at all costs.”
The ministry said that the meeting took place on Thursday evening, but did not provide information about which countries participated in it. Earlier on Thursday, China canceled a meeting of foreign ministers with Japan in protest at the G-7’s statement that there were no excuses for the drills.
Both ministers participated in the meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia.
China contributed to the foreign support it received in response to Pelosi’s visit, mainly from other authoritarian states such as Russia, Syria and North Korea.
Earlier, China summoned US 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 went to South Korea, and then to Japan. Both countries host US military bases and could be embroiled in a conflict involving Taiwan.
China’s navy, air force, missile force, strategic support force and logistics support force are participating in the exercise, Xinhua reported.
They are believed to be the largest geographically close to Taiwan, and the closest nearby, within 20 kilometers (12 mi) of the island.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday called the drills a “significant escalation” and said he had urged Beijing to back off.
US law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as matters of “serious concern.”
The exercise is an echo of the last large-scale Chinese military exercises aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s leaders and voters in 1995 and 1996.
Taiwan put its military on alert and held civil defense exercises, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights were canceled or diverted and fishermen stayed in port to avoid the Chinese drills.
In the northern port of Keelung, 63-year-old Lu Chuan-xiong enjoyed a morning swim on Thursday, saying he was not worried.
“Everyone should want money, not bullets,” Lu said.