China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the US on issues from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Beijing also imposed sanctions on her.
The measures announced Friday are the latest in a promised series of steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island it claims as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. China opposes the self-governing island having its own engagements with foreign governments.
For a second straight day, China dispatched warplanes and naval ships into the Taiwan Strait as part of its biggest live-fireagainst Taiwan ever, CBS News’ Ramy Inocencio reports.
China will “suspend the China-US climate change talks,” and cancel two security meetings and a call between military leaders because of Pelosi’s “disregard of China’s strong opposition and stern representations,” the Chinese foreign ministry said Friday, according to Agence France- Press.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called “joint blockade operations” in six zones off the coast of Taiwan. On Thursday, state media said China’s People’s Liberation Army had deployed more than 100 warplanes, 10 warships and one nuclear-powered submarine.
Before the sanctions against Pelosi being announced, she told reporters in Japan that the Chinese government would not dictate who could travel to the island.
“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places. 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 doing our travel schedule. The Chinese government is not doing that.”
Following China’s actions overnight, The White House summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang to make it clear “that Beijing’s actions are of concern to Taiwan, to us, and to our partners around the world,” National Security Council strategic communications coordinator John Kirby said in a statement Friday.
“We condemned the PRC’s military actions, which are irresponsible, at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability and across the Taiwan Strait,” Kirby said. He added that the White House made it clear that “nothing has changed about our one China policy,” and that the US “is prepared for what 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, consistent with international law, as we have for decades – supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kirby added.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking sitting US politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, since Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited in 1997, Inocencio reports.
This week’s military drills are seen by experts as a trial-run of a potential future invasion of Taiwan, with China encircling the island with precision-guided missiles in six areas around the coast, Inocencio says.
Xinhua said Friday that fighters, bombers, destroyers and frigates were all used in what it called “joint blockade operations” in the six zones.
The military’s Eastern Theater Command also fired new versions of missiles it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.” Those included projectiles fired over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major ratcheting up of China’s threats to annex the island.
On the sidelines of a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has urged Beijing to back down.
Blinken said Pelosi’s visit was peaceful and did not represent a change in American policy – a “one-China” position of recognizing the government in Beijing, while allowing for informal relations and defense ties with Taipei – accusing 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 a “vigorous communication” during East Asia Summit meetings in Phnom Penh in which both he and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi took part along with the ASEAN nations, Russia and others.
“I reiterated the points that we made publicly as well as directly to Chinese counterparts in recent days, again, about the fact that they should not use the visit as a pretext for war, escalation, for provocative actions, that there is no possible justification for what they’ve done and urge them to stop these actions,” he said.
Blinken did not sit down one-on-one with Wang but said he had spoken with the Chinese foreign minister already about the possibility of a Pelosi visit to Taiwan before it had taken place during meetings in Bali, and had made the US position clear.
Pelosi received a euphoric welcome as the first US House speaker, and highest ranking US official, to visit Taiwan in more than 25 years.
Despite the aggressive Chinese reaction 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’ll continue to conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our long-standing approach to working with allies and partners to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight.”
Haley Ott and Sara Cook contributed to this report.