PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that Chinese military exercises targeting Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that it urged Beijing to back down.
China launched the drills following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which infuriated Beijing, which claims the self-governing 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 US policy towards Taiwan. accusing China of using it as a “pretext to increase provocation”. military activities in and around the Taiwan Strait. »
He said the situation had led to “vigorous communication” at the East Asia Summit meetings in Phnom Penh that he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended with ASEAN countries. , Russia and others.
“I reiterated the points we have made publicly as well as directly to Chinese counterparts over the past few days, yet again, that they should not use the visit as a pretext for war, escalation, provocative actions, that there is no possible justification for what they have done and urge them to stop these actions,” he said.
Blinken did not sit one-on-one with Wang, but said he had already spoken with China’s foreign minister about the possibility of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan before she had took place in meetings in Bali, and that he had clarified the American position.
At the opening of the East Asia Summit, Mr. Wang patted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the shoulder as he entered the room and gave a quick wave to Mr. Lavrov, already seated, before sitting down. Lavrov responded with a wave.
Blinken, who entered the room last, didn’t even glance at Lavrov as he sat down half a dozen chairs away, or at Wang, who sat further down at the same table as Lavrov.
Prior to the Phnom Penh talks, the US State Department indicated that Blinken did not intend to meet one-on-one with either of the men during the meetings.
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 antagonism over the invasion Russian from Ukraine.
Blinken said the conviction and sentence “aggravate the injustice done to him.”
“This highlights our very important turn with the Russian justice system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda by using individuals as political pawns,” he said.
China on Thursday canceled a foreign ministers’ meeting with Japan to protest a statement by the Group of 7 nations that there was no justification for Beijing’s military drills, which virtually encircle Taiwan.
“Japan, together with other G-7 members and the EU, made an irresponsible statement accusing China and confusing good and evil,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told Reuters. Beijing.
When Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa began speaking at the East Asia Summit on Friday, Lavrov and Wang walked out of the room, according to a diplomat in the room who spoke under the guise of anonymity in order to discuss the private session.
Following the Chinese missile launches in Japan’s economic zone, Blinken said the United States stands “strongly in solidarity” with Japan following the “dangerous actions China has taken.”
Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this report.
David Rising, The Associated Press