PHNOM PENH PENH: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned China's military drills encircling Taiwan as an escalation, and said there was no justification for the exercises launched by Beijing in response to a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
China exploded ballistic missiles and deployed fighter jets and warships around Taiwan, declaring multiple no-go danger zones in some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
After talks with Southeast Asian foreign ministers in Phnom Penh, these provocative actions are a significant escalation, said Blinken.
This week's standoff was Beijing's latest attempt to alter the fragile status quo over self-ruled Taiwan, which China regards as part of its territory and can be recovered by force if necessary, according to Blinken.
He said he had warned Wang Yi at a recent meeting in Indonesia that Pelosi - the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years - would likely make the trip to the island.
We anticipated that China might take measures like this - in fact, we described this exact scenario, Blinken said.
There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response. He said that the United States would not take action to provoke a crisis, but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.
He said that we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.
Beijing insists its war games are a necessary response to Pelosi's visit.
Blinken is in Cambodia meeting counterparts from Southeast Asia and 27 other countries, including China, Japan, Britain, the European Union and India. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN, hosting the gathering, called for restraint from all sides and said there was a risk of miscalculation and conflict between major powers.
Blinken said that ASEAN and other Asian officials were concerned that actions by China would destabilise the whole region.
The last thing that countries want to see between mainland China and Taiwan be resolved by force is to see differences between mainland China and Taiwan, according to Blinken after Friday's East Asia Summit.
It is incumbent on us and China to act responsibly. He said that we don't want efforts by any country, including China and Russia, to disrupt international peace and security.