Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
AP

Blinken: China military drills are 'significant escalation'

From the This morning's top headlines: Friday, Aug. 5 series

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has urged Beijing to back down

  • Updated
  • 0

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that China's military exercises aimed at Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan's exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has urged Beijing to back down.

China launched the drills following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan that infuriated Beijing, which claims the self-governed island as its own territory.

Blinken told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia, however, that Pelosi's visit was peaceful and did not represent a change in American policy toward Taiwan, accusing China of using it as a "pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait."

He said the situation had led to a “vigorous communication” during East Asia Summit meetings in Phnom Penh in which both he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took part along with the ASEAN nations, Russia and others.

“I reiterated the points that we made publicly as well as directly to Chinese counterparts in recent days, again, about the fact that they should not use the visit as a pretext for war, escalation, for provocative actions, that there is no possible justification for what they’ve done and urge them to cease these actions,” he said.

Blinken did not sit down one-on-one with Wang but said he had spoken with the Chinese foreign minister already about the possibility of a Pelosi visit to Taiwan before it had taken place during meetings in Bali, and had made the U.S. position clear.

China on Friday announced unspecified sanctions on Pelosi for her visit. A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said she had disregarded China’s concerns and resolute opposition to her trip.

Pelosi received a euphoric welcome as the first U.S. House speaker, and highest ranking U.S. official, to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years.

China opposes any engagement by Taiwanese officials with foreign governments, and has accused the U.S. of breaking the status quo with the Pelosi visit. The U.S. insists there has been no change to its “one-China” position of recognizing the government in Beijing, while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei.

Despite the aggressive Chinese reaction to the visit, Blinken said the U.S. would also not change its “commitment to the security of our allies in the region,” and that the Defense Department had ordered the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group “to remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation.”

“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said. “We'll continue to conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our long-standing approach to working with allies and partners to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight.”

As the East Asia Summit opened, Wang patted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the shoulder as he entered the room and gave the already-seated Lavrov a quick wave before taking his own seat. Lavrov waved back in response.

Blinken, who entered the room last, did not even glance at Lavrov as he took his own seat about a half dozen chairs away, or at Wang who was seated farther down the same table as Lavrov.

Ahead of the Phnom Penh talks, the U.S. State Department indicated Blinken had no plans to meet one-on-one with either man during the course of the meetings.

Following the meetings, Lavrov told reporters there had been a lot of “fiery statements” about the aftermath of the Pelosi visit.

“There have been rather sharp statements from our Chinese partners, who we support," he told reporters. "And there have been responses from the U.S. and Japan that it’s not China’s business and that the declared policy of supporting the one-China principle doesn’t mean one has to ask Beijing for permission to visit Taiwan. Surely, it’s a weird logic.”

The talks came a day after WNBA star Brittney Griner was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to nine years in prison by Russia in a politically charged case amid antagonisms over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Blinken said the conviction and sentence “compounds the injustice that has been done to her.”

“It puts a spotlight on our very significant turn with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda using individuals as political pawns,” he said.

Blinken has suggested the possibility of a prisoner swap for Griner and another American jailed in Russia, Paul Whelan, but Lavrov told reporters that such a deal could only be decided upon by Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden.

“We’re ready to discuss this topic, but to discuss it within the channel that was agreed on by presidents Putin and Biden,” Lavrov said on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting.

On Thursday, China canceled a foreign ministers’ meeting with Japan to protest a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized nations that said there was no justification for Beijing's military exercises, which virtually encircle Taiwan.

“Japan, together with other member of the G-7 and the EU, made an irresponsible statement accusing China and confounding right and wrong,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

When Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa began to speak Friday at the East Asia Summit, both Lavrov and Wang walked out of the room, according to a diplomat in the room who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the private session.

In the wake of the Chinese missile launches into Japan's economic zone, Blinken said the U.S. stands in “strong solidarity” with Japan following the “dangerous actions China has taken.”


Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

0 Comments

Related to this story

Most Popular

Senate Democrats say they have reached an accord on changes to their marquee economic legislation, clearing the major hurdle to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s leading election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist who was seen as the pivotal vote, says she is ready to “move forward” on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York says lawmakers have achieved a compromise that will receive the support of all Democrats in the chamber. His party needs unanimity and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to move the measure through the Senate over certain solid opposition from Republicans.

Vote counting continues in the close race to determine the Republican nominee for governor in Arizona, with former television news anchor Kari Lake narrowly leading lawyer Karrin Taylor Robson. The race is seen as a barometer of Donald Trump’s enduring influence after establishment Republicans came out in force behind Robson. Lake is closely aligned with the former president, who could gain allies with influence over how elections are run as he considers a 2024 White House campaign. The winner will advance to the November general election to take on Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. And Trump-backed Mark Finchem won the GOP primary to be secretary of state, who oversees elections.

China says it is cutting off dialogue with the U.S. on a range of vital issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The measures announced Friday are the latest steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island claimed by Beijing as its own territory — to be annexed by force if necessary. China also is firing missiles in military exercises off the coast of the island. U.S.-China expert Bonnie Glaser warns China may be heading toward changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, with results that are negative for both Taiwan and the U.S.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is declining to endorse Joe Biden if the president seeks a second term in 2024 and is refusing to say whether he wants Democrats to retain control of Congress after the November elections. Manchin, who's one of the Democrats’ most conservative and contrarian members, made his comments during interviews on the Sunday news shows. He also expressed hope that fellow Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will back the party's package of climate, health care and tax initiatives that Manchin helped negotiated. She joined Manchin last year in forcing cuts and changes in larger versions of the plan. Support from every Democrat in the 50-50 Senate is needed to overcome anticipated unanimous Republican opposition.

Liz Cheney’s pointed criticism of former President Donald Trump on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is likely to hurt her reelection chances in Wyoming. Many Cheney allies are prepared for Cheney to lose Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary against Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman. But as primary day approaches, some on Cheney’s team believe her unorthodox strategy in 2022 may put her in a stronger position for the 2024 presidential contest. Her anti-Trump message as vice chairman of the Jan. 6 committee has strengthened her national brand and expanded a network of donors and Trump critics in both parties who could boost a prospective White House run.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has defeated scandal-scarred former Gov. Eric Greitens and 19 others in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He will face Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and philanthropist who defeated Marine veteran Lucas Kunce and nine others in the Democratic primary. Republican leaders have long feared that a Greitens win would jeopardize a red state Senate seat in the November general election. Greitens resigned four years ago. His resignation followed a sex scandal, two criminal charges that were eventually dropped, and a risk of impeachment. This year, his ex-wife accused him of abuse. Republican Sen. Roy Blunt’s announcement last year that he would not seek a third term set off a frenzy for his job.

President Joe Biden has announced that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul. Biden is hailing the operation as delivering “justice” while expressing hope that it brings “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The president said in a Monday evening address from the White House that U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding out with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out Sunday. Al-Zawahri and Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks.

Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski has been killed in a car accident in her northern Indiana District. The Elkhart County sheriff's office says the 58-year-old Walorski and two staff members were inside a SUV that crossed the centerline on a state highway and struck another car head-on Wednesday. Walorski, who served on the House Ways and Means Committee, was first elected to represent Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012. Indiana Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young said he was "devastated” by Walorski’s death and that he'll never forget her spirit and positive attitude.

Listen now and subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | RSS Feed | Omny Studio

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News