28 February, 2024
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China suspends co-operation with US, sanctions Nancy Pelosi over ‘grave impact’ of Taiwan trip


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China has announced it is halting dialogue with the United States in a number of areas, including between theatre-level military commanders and on climate talks, in an escalating furore over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

China’s foreign ministry said it was also suspending co-operation with the US on the prevention of cross-border crime and drug trafficking.

Enraged after Ms Pelosi became the highest-level US visitor in 25 years to the self-governed island that China regards as its sovereign territory, China launched military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday.

The live-fire drills, the largest ever conducted by China in the Taiwan Strait, are scheduled to continue until noon on Sunday.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Friday it scrambled jets to warn away Chinese aircraft that it said entered the island’s air defence zone, some of which crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides.

The ministry said a total of 68 Chinese military aircraft and 13 navy ships had conducted missions in the strait.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a statement that its military conducted air and sea drills to the north, southwest and east of Taiwan on Friday “to test the troops’ joint combat capabilities”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US has repeatedly made clear to China it does not seek a crisis over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which took place on Wednesday during a congressional tour of Asia.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of ASEAN regional meetings in Cambodia, adding, “now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level”.

Mr Blinken emphasised that the United States would not take actions to provoke a crisis but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.

“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told a media briefing after the ASEAN meetings: “I heard that US Secretary of State Blinken held his news conference and spread some misinformation and was not speaking truthfully.”

“We wish to issue a warning to the United States: do not act rashly, do not create a greater crisis,” Mr Wang said.

Jing Quan, a senior Chinese embassy official in Washington DC, echoed that, telling a briefing with reporters: “The only way out of this crisis is that the US side must take measures immediately to rectify its mistakes and eliminate the grave impact of Pelosi’s visit.”

He said the US should “avoid pushing China-US relations down the dangerous track of conflict and confrontation”.

The White House summoned Chinese ambassador Qin Gang on Thursday to condemn China’s actions.

That followed China’s summoning of US ambassador Nicholas Burns early this week over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit.

Representatives for the US State Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment on China’s halting of talks and co-operation on several fronts.

The Chinese comments did not mention a suspension of military talks at the senior-most levels, such as with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

While those talks have been infrequent, officials have said they are important to have in the case of an emergency or accident.

China separately announced that it would personally impose sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions.

Speaking in Japan before she set off to return to Washington DC, Ms Pelosi said her trip to Asia was never about changing the regional status quo.

“We have said from the start that our representation here is not about changing the status quo in Taiwan or the region,” she told a news conference after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Friday the island’s military had dispatched aircraft and ships and deployed land-based missile systems to monitor ships and aircraft that briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line.

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