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Diplomatic and military tensions continue to rise in the wake of Pelosi’s Taiwan visit

Written by Javed Iqbal

The fallout continued Friday from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan as China announced it is canceling dialogue with the US on military talks and climate change.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Friday that working meetings with the US Defense Department and the China-US Maritime Military Security Consultation Mechanism have been canceled as a result of Pelosi’s visit.

The ministry said it will also no longer cooperate with the United States on climate change negotiations, drug control, repatriation of illegal immigrants, criminal investigations and fighting cross-border crime.

These were seen as the remaining roadblocks to a strained US-China relationship, but Beijing has long said the only roadblock that matters is the “One China” principle – that the US recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government. China, but only recognizes the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.

The action raises questions about the potential impact on global climate benchmarks, as China and the US are the world’s biggest climate polluters. Just last year, the US and China issued a joint pledge to take “enhanced climate action” to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The White House “summoned” Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang over China’s provocative actions overnight, spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, making clear that the actions are “of interest to Taiwan, us and our partners around the world.”

Kirby also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the One China policy, as did Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Later Friday, the White House spokesman specifically addressed China’s suspension of the climate talks, calling the decision “fundamentally irresponsible.”

“China is not just punishing the United States with this, with these actions, but they are actually punishing the whole world,” he said. “The world’s biggest emitter is now refusing to take the critical steps needed to stand up to fight the climate crisis that is actually affecting our partners, from rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands to fires across Europe.”

Kirby also downplayed China’s decision to suspend military engagements, saying Beijing “regularly goes after these kinds of engagements to signal their displeasure with the United States.”

Pelosi and members of a congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday despite warnings from mainland China. Pelosi, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in decades, said the trip – which also includes stops in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia – is about “promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”

PHOTO: Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan August 3, 2022.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks at a news conference with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, Taiwan on August 3, 2022.

Taiwan’s Presidential Office via Reuters

In response, China has also increased military exercises and imposed new trade restrictions on Taiwan.

Kirby confirmed Thursday that China fired an estimated 11 ballistic missiles at Taiwan that hit areas to the northeast, east and southeast of the island.

“We condemn these actions, which are irresponsible and contrary to our longstanding goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,” Kirby said.

The United States expects these actions to continue over the coming days, Kirby said, noting that the United States is “prepared” for whatever Beijing decides to do.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense released new figures on Friday indicating China’s deployment of 68 combat aircraft, 13 warships to the areas and waters surrounding Taiwan. Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-Wen, said the nation remains on high alert.

Kirby said Thursday that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group would remain in “the general area to monitor the situation” and would, in fact, “conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait for the next few weeks.”

Blinken on Friday called China’s response a “serious overreaction”.

“The fact is that the speaker’s visit was peaceful,” the foreign minister said between meetings at the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference in Cambodia. “There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response.”

PHOTO: A Chinese J-11 military fighter jet flies over the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan, the closest land on the Chinese mainland to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan, southeast China's Fujian Province, August 5, 2022.

A Chinese J-11 military fighter jet flies over the Taiwan Strait near Pingtan, the closest land on the Chinese mainland to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan, southeast China’s Fujian province, August 5, 2022.

By Han Guan/AP

Pelosi herself commented on China’s response to the trip during a press conference Friday with the rest of the congressional delegation, saying Beijing “probably used our visit as an excuse” for its missile strikes.

“Our friendship with Taiwan is strong,” she said. “It is bipartisan in the House and Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”

Republicans in Congress this week have applauded Pelosi’s trip, with more than half of the GOP’s Senate caucus signing a statement supporting her decision to go to Taiwan.

Pelosi has also been sanctioned by China, meaning neither she nor her family will be able to visit mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.

Asked on Friday whether Pelosi was to blame for the breakdown in US-China relations, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Pelosi had “the right” to go to Taiwan.

“There was no reason to have this escalation that we are seeing from China,” Jean-Pierre said.

— ABC News’ Molly Nagle, Lauren Minore, Joe Simonette and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.

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Javed Iqbal

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