China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on issues from climate change to military relations and the fight against drugs in retaliation for a visit to Taiwan this week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Beijing also imposed sanctions on her.
The measures announced on Friday are the latest in a promised series of steps aimed at punishing Washington for allowing the visit to the island, which it claims as its own territory, to be annexed by force if it is necessary. China opposes the self-governing island having its own engagements with foreign governments.
For the second day in a row, China sent warplanes and naval ships into the Taiwan Strait as part of the country’s biggest live fireagainst Taiwan ever, CBS News’ Ramy Inocencio reports.
China will “suspend China-US climate change talks” and cancel two security meetings and a call between military leaders due to Pelosi’s “ignorance of China’s strong opposition and stern representations,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday, according to Agence France-Presse.
The official Xinhua news agency said Friday that fighter jets, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called “joint blockade operations” in six zones off Taiwan’s coast. On Thursday, state media said China’s People’s Liberation Army had deployed more than 100 warplanes, 10 warships and a nuclear-powered submarine.
Before the sanctions against Pelosi were announced, she told reporters in Japan that the Chinese government would not dictate who could travel to the island.
“They may try to prevent Taiwan from visiting or participating elsewhere. But they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us from traveling there,” Pelosi said.
She later added: “We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan. They are not making our itinerary. The Chinese government is not.”
After China’s actions overnight, the White House summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang to make clear “that Beijing’s actions are troubling to Taiwan, us and our partners around the world,” National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said in a statement Friday.
“We condemned China’s military actions, which are irresponsible, contrary to our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said. He added that the White House made clear that “nothing has changed in our one China policy” and that the United States “is prepared for whatever Beijing chooses to do. We will not seek and do not want a crisis.”
“At the same time, we will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, in accordance with international law, as we have done for decades – to support Taiwan and defend a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kirby added.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking sitting US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, since Republican President Newt Gingrich visited in 1997, Inocencio reports.
This week’s military drills are seen by experts as a test run of a potential future invasion of Taiwan, with China encircling the island with precision-guided missiles in six areas around the coast, Inocencio said.
Xinhua said on Friday that fighter jets, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all being used in what it called “joint blockade operations” in the six zones.
The military’s Eastern Theater Command also launched new versions of the missiles, which it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.” These included projectiles fired over Taiwan into the Pacific Ocean, military officers told state media in a major escalation of China’s threats to annex the island.
On the sidelines of a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that China’s military exercises targeting Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has called on Beijing to back off.
Blinken said Pelosi’s visit was peaceful and did not represent a change in US policy – a “one-China” position of recognizing the government in Beijing while allowing informal relations and defense ties with Taipei – and accused China of using the visit as a “pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.”
He said the situation had led to “vigorous communication” during the East Asian Summit in Phnom Penh, which both he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attended along with ASEAN countries, Russia and others.
“I reiterated the points that we have made publicly as well as directly to Chinese colleagues in recent days, again, about the fact that they should not use the visit as a pretext for war, for escalation, for provocative actions, that there is no any possible justification for what they have done and call on them to stop these actions,” he said.
Blinken did not sit down one-on-one with Wang, but said he had already spoken to the Chinese foreign minister about the possibility of a Pelosi visit to Taiwan before it took place during meetings in Bali and had made the U.S. position clear .
Pelosi received a euphoric welcome as the first speaker of the US House and the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years.
Despite the aggressive Chinese response to the visit, Blinken said the US would also not change its “commitment to the security of our allies in the region” and that the Defense Department had ordered the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group “to remain on station”. in the general area to monitor the situation.”
“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said. “We will continue to conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our long-standing approach of working with allies and partners to maintain freedom of navigation and overflight.”
Haley Ott and Sara Cook contributed to this report.