A senior Chinese official has warned that disputes over Taiwan, if not managed properly, had the potential to trigger an all-out confrontation between China and the United States.
“Taiwan is one of the very few issues that can bring China and the United States into conflict or even a war,” Jing Quan, minister of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, told reporters during a virtual press conference on Friday.
Given the sensitive nature of the issue, he argued that “extra caution and sense of responsibility is indispensable when it comes to Taiwan.”
“The right way for China and the United States to get along is to follow the spirit of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, avoidance of confrontation and win-win cooperation,” Jing said. “But it requires a joint effort from both sides.”
Chinese officials have accused the United States of eroding the commitments of its One China policy, established along with three joint communiques that served as the basis for Washington’s relationship with Beijing. The United States established diplomatic relations with China in 1979 and severed official relations with Taiwan, although it has maintained informal relations in the form of political contacts and military support that have expanded in recent years.
In the latest flare-up of already tense bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing, the US House spoke Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan, which China continues to claim as part of its territory. After repeated warnings, China responded to the trip by holding the largest-ever People’s Liberation Army exercises around Taiwan, including air and naval exercises and live-fire launches in which missiles flew over the disputed island.
The US called for calm and has tried to downplay the significance of Pelosi’s visit, the first of its kind for a House speaker in 25 years, in an effort to avoid a crisis. But China has also reacted strongly on the diplomatic front, including canceling talks and meetings between the two militaries and suspending cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants, legal aid in criminal cases, combating transnational crimes, counter-narcotics and climate change discussions.
Jing said Pelosi’s visit “has a serious impact on the political basis of China-US relations, seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and seriously undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Even with rising tensions, however, he called for a return to cooperation between the world’s two leading powers.
“As both COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict grow into protracted crises, it is high time for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation and work with other countries to find solutions,” Jing said. “We should work together but not provoke the other side.
“Instead, some politicians choose to harm China’s core interests, either to seek the limelight or to cement their political legacy,” he added. “Their actions will only erode China-US relations and put our people and military in dangerous situations.”
And Jing claimed that “it is the United States that is provoking China and creating tension.”
However, speaking directly to Jing’s remarks, White House National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said that “it is the Chinese who have been issuing bellicose rhetoric and threats, it is the Chinese who are trying to increase tensions and pressures and the military sphere. as a sort of pretext to escalate tensions.”
Even as many observers began to declare the situation the fourth crisis in the Taiwan Strait, Kirby argued that escalation was not warranted.
“We’re not looking for a crisis,” he added, “and frankly, there’s no need for a crisis.”
This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.