China summons European diplomats to Taiwan statement

BEIJING (AP) — China has said it has urged European diplomats in the country to protest criticism of the Group of Seven Countries and the European Union threatening Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan.

The Foreign Ministry said on Friday that it had made “serious statements” about what Deputy Minister Deng Li called “immoral interference in China’s internal affairs”.

China has sent navy ships and warplanes and launched missiles into the Taiwan Strait in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week, which China considers its territory and will annex by force if necessary.

On the Chinese coast opposite Taiwan, tourists gathered on Friday to catch sight of any military aircraft heading towards the exercise site. Warplanes were heard flying in the air, and photo-taking tourists chanted “Take back Taiwan” as they gazed at the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan island, a popular viewpoint.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday morning that China had sent military ships and warplanes across the midline of the Taiwan Strait, crossing an unofficial buffer zone between China and Taiwan for decades.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on Thursday that five of the missiles fired by China since the start of the military exercises had landed in Japan’s Special Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan’s main islands. He said Japan was protesting the missile landings on China as “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the security of the Japanese people.”

Japan’s Ministry of Defense later said it believed four other missiles fired from Fujian, on China’s southeast coast, were flying over Taiwan.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday that China’s military exercises against Taiwan are a “serious problem” that threatens regional peace and security.

In Tokyo, where Pelosi ended her Asia trip, she said China could not prevent US officials from visiting Taiwan. Speaking to Pelosi and the congressional delegation after breakfast, Kishida said the missile launches should be “stopped immediately”.

Deng said China will “use all means and with the strongest determination, at any cost, to prevent the division of the country”.

“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is a blatant political manipulation and a blatant and serious violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In response to the US-Taiwan collusion and provocation, China’s counterattack is perfectly natural,” Deng said.

China’s Foreign Ministry said the meeting was held on Thursday night, but did not disclose which countries were attending. Earlier on Thursday, China canceled a foreign ministers meeting with Japan to protest the G-7’s statement that there was no justification for the exercises.

Both ministers were attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Cambodia.

China had previously 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. He went to South Korea and then to Japan. Both countries host US military bases and could be drawn into a conflict involving Taiwan.

According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese exercises include troops from the navy, air force, rocket forces, strategic support forces and logistics support forces.

While Beijing has declared six exercise zones surrounding the island, they are believed to be the largest geographically held near Taiwan.

Addressing the exercises on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “I hope Beijing will not create a crisis or look for an excuse to increase its aggressive military activities. We, countries around the world, believe that escalation serves no one and can have unintended consequences that do not serve anyone’s interests.”

US law requires the government to treat threats to Taiwan, including blockades, as “serious concern”.

The exercises will run from Thursday to Sunday and will include missile strikes on seaborne targets in the north and south of the island, an echo of the last major Chinese military exercises in 1995 and 1996 aimed at intimidating Taiwanese leaders and voters.

Taiwan alerted its military and held civil defense exercises, but the general mood remained calm on Friday. Flights were canceled or diverted, and fishermen remained in port to avoid Chinese exercises.

In the northern port of Keelung, Lu Chuan-hsiong, 63, was enjoying a morning swim on Thursday, saying he wasn’t worried.

“Everyone should ask for money, not bullets,” Lu said.

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