China is set to press ahead on Friday with its largest-ever military exercises encircling Taiwan despite firm statements of condemnation by the United States, Japan and the European Union.

It came after Japan’s prime minister condemned China’s firing of ballistic missiles during military drills around Taiwan, calling them a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”.

Five Chinese missiles appear to have fallen in the country’s exclusive economic zone, Tokyo has said, with four of those believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island.

“China’s actions this time around have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters after meeting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for breakfast.

“I told her that we have called for the immediate cancellation of the military drills.”

Ms Pelosi is in Tokyo for the final leg of an Asian tour that included a stop in Taiwan, infuriating Beijing, which launched military drills in response.

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The 82-year-old politician defied stern threats from China to become the highest-profile US official to visit Taiwan in years, saying her trip made it “unequivocally clear” the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.

China views Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to retake the island one day, by force if necessary.

In retaliation, China on Thursday launched a series of exercises in multiple zones around Taiwan, straddling some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and at some points coming just 20 kilometres from the island’s shores.

The drills involved a “conventional missile firepower assault” in waters to the east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said. Beijing has said they will continue until midday Sunday.

Beijing’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported the Chinese army “flew more than 100 warplanes including fighters and bombers” during the exercises, as well as “over 10 destroyers and frigates.”

State broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles had flown over Taiwan. Taiwan said the Chinese military fired 11 Dongfeng-class ballistic missiles “in several batches”, while Japan claimed of the nine missiles it had detected, four were “believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island”.

Taiwan has said it would not confirm missile flight paths, however.

“Considering the main goal of CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party’s) launch of missiles is to intimidate us and in order to protect the military’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, we will not release information such as its flight,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

Mr Kishida said he and Ms Pelosi discussed geopolitical issues including matters related to North Korea, China and Russia, as well as efforts towards a nuclear-free world.

Ms Pelosi arrived Thursday night from South Korea, another key US ally, where she visited the border with the nuclear-armed North. It is her first time in Japan since 2015.

Tokyo has lodged a diplomatic protest with Beijing over the military exercises.

Parts of Japan’s southernmost Okinawa region are close to Taiwan, as are islets at the centre of a long-running dispute between Tokyo and Beijing.

Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extends up to 200 nautical miles from its coastline, beyond the limits of its territorial waters.

On Friday, Ms Pelosi said the United States will “not allow” China to isolate Taiwan.

“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there,” she told reporters in Tokyo.

“We had high-level visits, senators in the spring, the bi-partisan way, continuing visits, and we will not allow them to isolate Taiwan.”

It came after the United States said Thursday that China’s launch of 11 ballistic missiles around Taiwan was an over-reaction to Ms 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 region to monitor the situation after China conducted military live-fire exercises.

“China has chosen to overreact and use the Speaker’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait,” Mr Kirby told reporters.

Mr Kirby called China’s actions part of a “manufactured crisis” but also said that Beijing was attempting to alter the regional power balance.

“It’s also a pretext to try to up the ante … and to actually try to set a new status quo, to get to a new normal where they think they can keep things at,” Mr Kirby said.

“And my point coming out here today was making clear that we’re not going to accept a new status quo. The temperature’s pretty high.”

Tensions “can come down very easily by just having the Chinese stop these very aggressive military drills and flying missiles in and around the Taiwan Strait”, he said.

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Mr Kirby confirmed reports that the Pentagon had postponed a scheduled test launch of a nuclear-capable ballistic missile to avoid stoking tensions.

“We do not believe it is in our interests, Taiwan’s interests, the region’s interests, to allow tensions to escalate further,” Mr Kirby said.

“As China engages in destabilising military exercises around Taiwan, the United States is demonstrating instead the behaviour of a responsible nuclear power by reducing the risks of miscalculation.”

But he said the US Navy’s USS Ronald Reagan carrier task force would remain in the area.

According to a Chinese military-backed research group, South China Sea Probing Initiative, the Reagan was about 1000 kilometres due east of Taiwan on Wednesday.

Mr Kirby said the carrier group has been ordered by the Pentagon to “remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation”.

“We will not be deterred from operating in the seas and the skies of the Western Pacific consistent with international law, as we have for decades, supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific,” he added.

The manoeuvres are taking place along some of the busiest shipping routes on the planet, used to supply vital semiconductors and electronic equipment produced in East Asian factory hubs to global markets.

Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau has issued warnings to ships to avoid the areas being used for the Chinese drills.

The Taiwanese cabinet has also said the drills would disrupt 18 international routes passing through its flight information region (FIR).

Several international airlines have told AFP they will divert flights from airspace around Taiwan island.

“China’s planned live-fire exercises are occurring in an incredibly busy waterway,” Nick Marro, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s lead analyst for global trade, wrote in a note.

“The shutting down of these transport routes — even temporarily — has consequences not only for Taiwan, but also trade flows tied to Japan and South Korea.”

But markets in Taipei appeared to shrug off the tensions, with the Taiwan Taiex Shipping and Transportation Index, which tracks major shipping and airline stocks, up 2.3 per cent early Friday.

And analysts broadly agree that despite all its aggressive posturing, Beijing does not want an active military conflict against the United States and its allies over Taiwan — just yet.

“The last thing Xi wants is an accidental war ignited,” Titus Chen, an associate professor of political science at the National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, told AFP

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