The United States said on Thursday that China’s launch of 11 ballistic missiles around Taiwan was an overreaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.
But White House spokesman John Kirby said a US aircraft carrier task force, sailing east of Taiwan, would remain in the area to monitor the situation following military live-fire exercises by China.
“China has chosen to use the exaggeration and the speaker’s visit as an excuse to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby told reporters.
Kirby described China’s actions as part of a “manufactured crisis” but also said Beijing was attempting to alter the regional balance of power.
Kirby said, “It’s also an excuse to try the former … and to really try to establish a new situation, to be a new normal where they feel they can keep things. “
“And my point that came out here today was making it clear that we are not going to accept a new status quo.”
“The temperature is too high,” Kirby said.
“Tensions could very easily be reduced by China firing these aggressive military exercises and missiles in and around the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
Kirby confirmed reports that the Pentagon had postponed a scheduled test launch of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to avoid tensions.
“We don’t believe it’s our interests, Taiwan’s interests, the interests of the region to allow tensions to escalate,” Kirby said.
“As China engages in destabilizing military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating a responsible nuclear power behavior by minimizing the risk of miscalculation.”
But he said the US Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Task Force would remain in the area.
Reagan was about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) east of Taiwan on Wednesday, according to the South China Sea Probing Initiative, a Chinese military-backed research group.
Kirby said the carrier group has been ordered by the Pentagon to “remain at the station in the general area to monitor the situation.”
“We will not be prevented from operating in accordance with international law in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, as we have for decades, from supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he said.
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