China’s Foreign Ministry has warned the U.S. of “serious consequences” should U.S. House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan in a demonstration of developing ties between Washington and the autonomous island that Beijing sees as inalienable part of China’s territory.
“The Chinese side has made it clear to the U.S. on many occasions that it is firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. We are fully prepared. If the U.S. goes its own way, China will certainly take firm and forceful measures to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States should be held responsible for any serious consequences,” the ministry’s spokesman Zhao Lijian stated.
His remarks confirm an earlier report by the Financial Times indicating that China has been issuing stark private warning to the U.S. regarding Pelosi’s planned visit to the island that has been recently at the epicenter of the tensions between the U.S. and China.
Washington has repeatedly expressed concerns that Beijing may proceed to try and take control over the island by force. China, while not ruling out any options, stressed that Taiwan and the rest of Chinese territories are of no concern to the U.S.
The historic visit of the high-level U.S. lawmaker has reportedly already sparked concerns of possible fallout for the island. Taipei allegedly fears that both Pelosi’s visit and the cancellation of her trip would embolden Beijing to act in a harsher manner.
Financial Times Report: China Warns Of Military Response To Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip
China has reportedly raised the stakes in its row with Washington over Pelosi’s planned trip to Taiwan, saying it may respond militarily if Pelosi, the House Speaker and California Democrat, goes through with the visit.
The latest warnings were privately issued to members of U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, the Financial Times reported on a few days ago, citing six unidentified people familiar with the matter. The statement was significantly stronger than the warnings that Chinese officials have given in the past over controversial U.S. actions or policy decisions related to Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said last Tuesday that Pelosi’s trip would have a “grave impact” on U.S.-China ties.
The spokesperson said: “If the U.S. were to insist on going down the wrong path, China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. All the ensuing consequences shall be borne by the U.S. side.”
Chinese officials also have argued that a visit to Taipei by such a high-level representative – as House speaker, Pelosi would be next in line to the Oval Office if neither the president nor vice president were able to serve – would violate the U.S. “One China” policy, under which Washington acknowledges Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan. On Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated Beijing’s vow to take “strong countermeasures,” adding, “We mean what we say.”
The Pentagon apparently sees Pelosi’s planned trip as problematic. Pressed on the issue by reporters last Wednesday, Biden replied, “I think that the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now, but I do not know what the status of it is.”
Pelosi told reporters on Thursday that Biden had not raised any concern directly with her. “I think what the president was saying is, maybe the military was afraid our plane would get shot down or something like by the Chinese,” she said.
White House officials are trying to assess whether the latest Chinese warning is serious or “brinkmanship” to bluff Pelosi out of taking the trip, the Financial Times said. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan opposes the visit over concerns that it would escalate tensions across the Taiwan Strait. The National Security Council has given Pelosi “context, facts and geopolitical relevant information” about the planned visit, leaving her to make her own decision, spokesman John Kirby said.
U.S.-Chinese tensions over Taiwan have escalated in recent months. The Financial Times reported earlier this month that Pelosi intended to visit Taiwan in a show of support amid mounting reunification pressure from the mainland.
Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye said in a June interview that Beijing would not let Taiwan stand as an independent state. The Ambassador said: “We will retake Taiwan by all means, including military ones. If we cannot reunify the country by peaceful means, what else are we left to do?”
A U.S. congressional delegation defied China’s warnings against going through with a trip to Taiwan last November. Five House members met with Taiwanese officials about economic and security issues, marking the second visit to Taipei that month by members of Congress. Beijing sees such trips as emboldening separatist forces and undermining the foundation of U.S.-China relations.
Beijing Urges U.S. To Cancel Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit
Another earlier report said:
China is insisting that U.S. cancel the visit of Pelosi to Taiwan anticipated in August, considering it an infringement on the one-China principle and warning Washington that it will be solely responsible for all ramifications, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.
Initially, a U.S. delegation headed by Pelosi was expected to visit Taiwan in April. The pending trip, which then sparked a severe outcry from Beijing, could have been the first visit to Taipei by a U.S. House speaker since 1997. It was later reported that Pelosi tested positive for COVID-19 so the U.S. congressmen embarked on their visit to Taiwan without her participation. Meanwhile, Pelosi’s visit was postponed for indefinite period of time. The Chinese Foreign Ministry then wished her well and urged Washington not to postpone, but to cancel the visit.
“We urge the U.S. side to adhere to the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués. The U.S. must not arrange for Speaker Pelosi to visit the Taiwan region and must stop official interactions with Taiwan, stop creating factors that could lead to tensions in the Taiwan Strait,” Zhao told a briefing.
He added that if the U.S. continues to act at its own discretion without taking into account Beijing’s position, China will definitely take decisive measures to defend its state sovereignty and territorial integrity, with Washington bearing full responsibility for all the repercussions.
China has repeatedly claimed that all official contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan are unacceptable, Zhao said, adding that Pelosi’s visit to Taipei would seriously undermine the political foundation of relations between Beijing and Washington, and send “a gravely wrong signal” to separatist forces advocating Taiwan’s independence.
“China firmly opposes such a visit,” Zhao added.
Official relations between Beijing and Taipei broke down in 1949 after Kuomintang forces led by Chiang Kai-shek were defeated by the Chinese Communist Party in the civil war and moved to Taiwan. Beijing considers the island to be a part of the country and follows the ‘One China’ policy, meaning that nations that recognize Taiwan can’t have relations with the People’s Republic of China.
While Washington does not officially recognize Taiwan, it does enjoy close ties with Taipei, delivering weapons to the island and pledging to defend it against possible aggression.
An earlier report said:
Taipei, despite officially welcoming Pelosi’s visit, fears it could result in a major fallout for the island, The Financial Times reported citing anonymous officials.
The island’s government reportedly believes that Beijing may retaliate if Pelosi proceeds with her plans to visit Taiwan. At the same time, they are also concerned that should the White House insist on Pelosi dropping the trip, it would embolden China and scare away any potential new allies, the newspaper’s sources said.
“If the visit is called off, that means China’s intimidation tactics works. That will have a chilling effect as others will shy away from engaging with us,” a Taiwanese official told the Financial Times.
Following Pelosi’s announcement of her plans to visit Taiwan, the White House expressed concerns over the possible consequences of such a trip. However, the House speaker dismissed them, insisting that the cancellation of the visit was out of the question.
Taiwan Holds Drills Amid Mounting Tensions
Taiwan has conducted a series of military drills aimed at repelling a potential Chinese incursion amid soaring tensions with the mainland, as well as reports that a top U.S. lawmaker plans to visit the island in the coming weeks.
Air raid sirens were heard across the island’s capital of Taipei on Monday as the annual ‘Wanan’ drills kicked off, including joint air and sea exercises and the mobilization of soldiers and armored vehicles – all meant to simulate an attack by Beijing.
Speaking to reporters about the drills, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je claimed that Chinese war planes had “frequently harassed Taiwan” in recent years, apparently referring to a series of flyovers condemned as provocative by Taiwanese officials. Beijing considers Taiwan as part of China’s territory, and insists it is within its rights to operate near the island.
Since taking office, U.S. President Biden has maintained friendly relations with Taiwan, with his administration authorizing a number of weapons transfers to the island as well as near-monthly transits of the disputed Taiwan Strait by U.S. warships, sparking anger from China. Earlier this month, Chinese forces claimed to have warded off an U.S. guided missile destroyer which sailed too close to contested islands in the South China Sea, the latest run-in between the two militaries.
China, ASEAN vow to build South China Sea Into A Sea Of Peace
Officials from China and ASEAN countries hailed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as an important landmark document that has played a huge role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea over the past 20 years at the symposium commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the DOC held in Beijing on Monday.
They agreed that China and ASEAN members should focus on cooperation, continue to follow the dual-track approach in dealing with the South China Sea issue, and look forward to the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
The workshop was jointly organized by the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies (CIBOS) with the Wuhan University, as well as the National Institute for South China Sea Studies (NISCSS).
In his opening speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of the DOC via video link, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on countries in the region to maintain their position in solving the South China Sea issue.
Wang slammed some major countries for continuously increasing their involvement in the South China Sea region to maintain their hegemony, deliberately escalating tensions and provoking confrontations, and jeopardizing the legitimate rights and interests of littoral states and normal maritime order, calling on China and ASEAN members to make their attitude clear: If you come for peace and cooperation, we welcome you. If you come here to make trouble or cause damage, please leave!
“20 years ago, we seized the historic opportunity to embark on dialogue and cooperation on the South China Sea issue. Under the new historical conditions, we should keep in mind our original aspiration, continue to unswervingly maintain the purposes and principles of the DOC and implement the norms and propositions of the DOC, continue to hold the initiative and dominance in resolving the South China Sea issue in the hands of our regional countries, and truly make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation,” Wang said.
Wang stressed that China and ASEAN members should uphold the bottom line for peace. The South China Sea is not a “hunting park” for countries outside the region, still less should it become an “arena” for the game between major powers. Any words and deeds that create tension and provoke confrontation in the region should be firmly opposed.
Hor Namhong, Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, said in a video speech that this is a historic document on the South China Sea. Since its signing in 2002, it has promoted peace and cooperation between the parties directly concerned in the South China Sea.
Over the past 20 years, the DOC has brought many possibilities, facilitated contacts, consultations and joint actions between ASEAN members and China, such as marine environmental protection, scientific research, safe navigation at sea and dealing with international crimes, Hor Namhong said.
Since the signing of the DOC, Southeast Asia and China have become the fastest growing regions in the world, while some other regions have also benefited from the rapid development of the region, the deputy prime minister noted.
Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said every ASEAN member and China showed foresight and realized that stability in the South China Sea serves the common interests of all parties. He stressed the importance of implementing the DOC, saying it made great contributions to the COC.
U Chan Aye, Permanent Secretary of Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said ASEAN members and China will discuss how to implement the DOC in a more comprehensive way and look forward to an early conclusion of the COC. An effective and substantive COC will contribute to peace, stability and security in the region, he said.
On June 7, 2021 China and the ASEAN members agreed to work together for an early agreement on the COC. Attending the 19th Senior Officials’ Meeting on the Implementation of the DOC held in Chongqing, the parties agreed to resume the second reading of the Single Draft COC Negotiating Text as soon as possible and strive for the early conclusion of negotiations, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
Vietnamese Ambassador to China Pham Sao Mai told the Global Times at the symposium that the DOC has played a positive role in maintaining peace, stability and security in the South China Sea, which also sent the signal to the world that ASEAN members and China are willing to resolve disputes in a peaceful way.
“At this workshop, I felt the determination and hope of the representatives of ASEAN members and China to jointly study and find solutions to create a peaceful and stable environment in the region,” said Pham Sao Mai, expressing the hope of reaching an effective and substantive COC.