China has decided to sanction US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her "vicious" and "provocative" actions, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.
"Despite China's serious concerns and firm opposition, Pelosi insisted on visiting Taiwan, seriously interfering in China's internal affairs, undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, trampling on the one-China policy, and threatening the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait," a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
US 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 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.
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.”
Taiwan blasted its "evil neighbour next door" on Friday after China encircled the island with a series of huge military drills that were condemned by the United States and other Western allies.
During military exercises on Thursday and Friday, China fired ballistic missiles and deployed both fighter jets and warships around Taiwan.
The People's Liberation Army declared multiple no-go danger zones around Taiwan, straddling major shipping lanes in the world and at some points coming within 20 kilometres (12 miles) of the island's shores.
Beijing has said the exercises will continue until midday Sunday, and Taipei reported that Chinese fighter jets and ships crossed the "median line" that runs down the Taiwan Strait on Friday morning.
"As of 11 am, multiple batches of Chinese warplanes and warships conducted exercises around the Taiwan Strait and crossed the median line of the strait," Taipei's defence ministry said in a statement.
The median line is an unofficial but once largely adhered-to border that runs down the middle of the Taiwan Strait, which separates Taiwan and China.