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Day after China fired missiles over Taiwan following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island nation, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that China's military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a “significant escalation". Antony Blinken also said that he has urged Beijing to back down.

China launched the drills over Taiwan following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island nation that infuriated Beijing. It warned the United States against Nancy Pelosi's visit saying the country will "pay the price". China claims the self-governed island as its own territory.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia, Antony Blinken said that Nancy Pelosi's visit was “peaceful". He said the US House Speaker's visit to Taiwan did not represent a change in American policy toward the island.

He also accused China of using Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan as a "pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Strait."

“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," Antony Blinken said.

Blinken also said that 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 US position clear.

“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows," he said. “We'll continue to conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our long-standing approach to working with allies and partners to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight," Blinken added.

Meanwhile, China has announced unspecified sanctions on Nancy Pelosi, while saying that the US House Speaker has disregarded the country's concerns and the opposition to her trip to Taiwan.

(With AP inputs)

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