The United States summoned China's ambassador to the White House to lodge a protest against actions it called irresponsible and at odds with maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, national security spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.
China launched its largest ever military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday, a day after US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi enraged Beijing by becoming the highest-level US visitor to the island in 25 years. The live-fire drills are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.
The White House summoned Ambassador Qin Gang on Thursday, the White House said.
The United States condemned China's actions, which it called irresponsible and at odds with maintaining peace across the Taiwan Strait.
"We also made clear that the United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do. We will not seek and do not want a crisis," Kirby said.
"At the same time, we will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, consistent with international law, as we have for decades – supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific."
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen condemned the unprecedented launching of live-fire drills in six zones around Taiwan as "irresponsible" and vowed to defend Taiwan's sovereignty and security as a "bulwark of democracy and freedom" on Thursday, according to Taiwan News.
Tsai called the "dangerous launch of missiles into some of the busiest transportation corridors in the world" as "irresponsible" during a televised speech. She said this undermines both the country's sovereignty and status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
The president emphasized that live-fire drills heighten tensions in the Indo-Pacific as a whole as they present an "unprecedented threat" to air and maritime safety and international trade. She then urged China to "act with reason and exercise restraint."
Tsai said Taiwan will "neither escalate nor instigate disputes." The president then vowed to "resolutely defend our nation's sovereignty and security as a bulwark of democracy and freedom."
Tsai pointed out that Taiwan is in close communication with its allies and is coordinating with them to stem any further escalation of the regional security situation. She added that Taiwan's armed forces are in a state of heightened readiness and are closely monitoring the military developments around the country.
Beijing has announced a series of countermeasures against the United States, in addition to sanctioning US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her direct family members following her trip to Taiwan, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Chinese foreign ministry said dialogues between the leaders of Chinese and US military theatres, the working meeting of Chinese and US defense ministries and consultation mechanism on maritime military safety between Beijing and the US are cancelled.
Cooperation on repatriating illegal immigrants, criminal justice assistance, cross-border crimes, narcotics and climate change will also be suspended.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi staged two walkouts at a Southeast Asian foreign ministers’ meeting as Beijing pushed back at criticism of its military exercises around Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
Wang and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov then staged another walkout at a meeting in the Cambodian capital on Friday when it was the turn of Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi to speak, according to Kyodo, which cited diplomatic sources.
When asked about Wang’s reported walkouts, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, said she was not aware of the situation but hit out at Japan’s behavior.
“Your leaders have been behaving very badly on Taiwan recently and have caused great dissatisfaction among the Chinese people,” she told a Japanese reporter during a press briefing on Friday.
Hua Chunying further said the current situation was completely caused by Pelosi and American politicians, calling the US a “crisis maker.”
“China has made diplomatic efforts to the greatest extent … all consequences arising therefrom shall be borne by the United States,” she warned.
Reuters contributed to this report.