The G7, ASEAN and other international bodies yesterday condemned China’s military drills off Taiwan proper, saying they risked destabilizing the region.
Beijing launched four days of live-fire exercises in retaliation for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the nation.
The G7 and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell in a joint statement asked Beijing not to use the visit as a “pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”
China’s “escalatory response risks increasing tensions and destabilizing the region,” they said, adding that it is routine for legislators to travel internationally.
The statement called on China “not to unilaterally change the status quo by force in the region,” while reaffirming a “shared and steadfast commitment to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters shortly after the release of the statement that there was no reason for Beijing to turn Pelosi’s visit into a crisis or use it as a pretext to increase aggressive military activity in or around the Taiwan Strait.
Asked what the G7 members — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US — would do if China were to continue aggressive action, Jean-Pierre said they would “monitor” and “manage what Beijing chooses to do.”
Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) rejected the statement and chided its authors for ignoring the “provocation” that had come from the US side.
“It groundlessly criticizes China for taking such measures, which are reasonable and legitimate steps to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said in a statement issued by the ministry. “Today’s China is no longer the China of the 19th century. History should not repeat itself, and it will never repeat itself.”
Following the G7 statement, China canceled a meeting between Wang and Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoshimasa Hayashi on the sidelines of ASEAN events in Cambodia, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) said.
Hua added that should other G7 members follow in the footsteps of the US over the Taiwan issue, it would mean they have no independence in their diplomatic affairs and policies.
In Taipei, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs separately thanked the G7 and the EU for supporting peace and stability in the region.
“Taiwan is committed to defending the status quo & our hard-earned democracy,” Tsai wrote on Twitter. “We’ll work with like-minded partners to maintain a free & open Indo-Pacific [region].”
Department of North American Affairs Director-General Douglas Hsu (徐佑典) told reporters that China should not “interfere in Taiwan’s friendly engagements with other countries,” and urged the international community to support Taiwan as it works to safeguard its national sovereignty.
During a foreign ministers’ meeting in Cambodia, ASEAN also issued a statement warning against provocation.
Volatility caused by tensions in the Taiwan Strait could lead to “miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers,” it said in a statement.
“ASEAN stands ready to play a constructive role in facilitating peaceful dialogue between all parties,” it said, urging maximum restraint.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in opening remarks at the ASEAN meeting said he recognized the Taiwan issue was on everyone’s minds, adding that Washington’s position has not changed.
“The United States continues to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” he said. “We oppose any unilateral efforts to change the status quo, especially by force.”
The US and other countries believe escalation serves no one “and could have unintended consequences that serve no one’s interests, including ASEAN members, and including China,” Blinken added.
The White House and Chinese state media have said there were no plans for Wang and Blinken to meet in Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin defended China’s “sovereign right” to hold military drills around Taiwan.
“The tension in the region and around Taiwan was provoked ... by the visit of Nancy Pelosi,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “It was an absolutely unnecessary visit and an unnecessary provocation.”
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