《TAIPEI TIMES》 US pans Beijing’s ‘new status quo’ bid

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, center, hosts a news briefing at the White House in Washington on Thursday. Photo: AP

2022/08/06 03:00

‘UNJUSTIFIED ESCALATION’: ‘The world will reject it,’ a White House official said, joining global condemnation for China’s precedented missile tests near Taiwan

/ Staff writer, with agencies

Washington on Thursday condemned Beijing’s attempt to set a “new status quo” after firing 11 ballistic missiles near Taiwan proper during live-fire military exercises, as Beijing announced an end to cooperation with the US on a number of issues in retaliation for US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei earlier this week.

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said China’s missile launches were “irresponsible” and “very aggressive.”

China has “overreacted” to Pelosi’s visit by increasing “provocative military activity” in and around the Taiwan Strait, Kirby told a White House news briefing.

Beijing was trying to use the trip as “a pretext to try to up the ante in tensions and to actually try to set a new status quo to get to a new normal” that China thinks it can maintain, Kirby said.

“We’re not going to accept a new status quo” in cross-strait relations, Kirby said.

“The world will reject it as well,” he added.

The White House earlier on Thursday summoned Chinese Ambassador to the US Qin Gang (秦剛) to condemn escalating actions against Taiwan and reiterate that the US does not want a crisis in the Asia-Pacific region, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

Foreign ministers attending an ASEAN forum in Cambodia this week also spoke out against Chinese military actions.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday reiterated that China’s missile launches were a disproportionate, significant and unjustified escalation.

“There was no possible justification for what they have done,” he told reporters, adding that Washington was seriously concerned and has made it repeatedly clear to China that it does not seek a crisis.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) urged “restraint and de-escalation” following the missile launches and said she had expressed concern to her Chinese counterpart.

“Australia is deeply concerned about the launch of ballistic missiles by China into waters around Taiwan’s coastline,” Wong said in a statement. “These exercises are disproportionate and destabilizing.”

During the last leg of her Asia tour yesterday, Pelosi told reporters in Tokyo that China would not isolate Taiwan by preventing US officials from traveling there.

“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.

Pelosi said her trip to Taiwan was not intended to change the “status quo,” but to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Earlier yesterday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a “grave problem” that threatens regional peace and security after five Chinese ballistic missiles launched as part of the drills landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in an unprecedented escalation.

Kishida, speaking after breakfast with Pelosi and her US congressional delegation, said the missile launches need to be “stopped immediately.”

Japanese Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi yesterday told a regular news conference that based on the engagement areas set by Beijing, it appears that firing the missiles into Japan’s EEZ “was intentional.”

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the international community for supporting democratic values and security across the Taiwan Strait, and advocating against Beijing unilaterally changing the “status quo.”

Administrative and legislative branches of more than 40 countries have voiced support for Taiwan, the ministry said.

As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will not provoke conflict and will deal with China’s irresponsible military threats, it said.

Meanwhile, Beijing has responded to the criticism by summoning foreign representatives, ending cooperation with the US on multiple issues, and levying unspecified sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said it was canceling several defense meetings and suspending key climate talks with the US, as well as cooperation on repatriating undocumented migrants, judicial assistance and transnational crime.

Beijing is to “suspend the China-US climate change talks,” and cancel plans for a call between military leaders and two security meetings, the ministry said, citing Pelosi’s “disregard of China’s strong opposition and stern representations.”

Beijing on Thursday also summoned China-based European, US, Canadian and Japanese diplomats to protest an “erroneous” G7 statement criticizing its military exercises.

Additional reporting by Yang Cheng-yu and Lin Tsuei-yi