WASHINGTON – China cut contact with the United States on Friday on vital issues – including military matters and critical climate cooperation – as fears grew that the communist government’s hostile reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan could signal a permanent and more aggressive approach towards the United States. Rival and autonomous island.
China’s move to freeze key lines of communication has exacerbated the deterioration of relations since Pelosi’s visit and from the Chinese response with military exercises off Taiwan, including the firing of missiles that landed in surrounding waters.
After the White House summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang late Thursday to protest the military exercises, White House spokesman John Kirby on Friday denounced the decision to end important dialogue with the United States as “irresponsible.”
The White House spokesman criticized China’s “provocative” actions since Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory. But Kirby noted that some channels of communication remain open between the two countries’ military officials. He repeated daily assurances that the United States had not changed its policy toward the communist mainland and the autonomous island.
“The bottom line is, we will continue our efforts to keep the lines of communication open that protect our interests and values,” Kirby said. He declined to talk about any damage to the long-term relations between China and the United States, calling for discussion on that at a later time.
Taiwan put its military on high alert and conducted civil defense exercises, but the mood remained calm on Friday. Flights were canceled or diverted and fishermen remained in port to avoid Chinese exercises.
On the Chinese coast across from Taiwan, tourists gather to try to catch a glimpse of military aircraft.
A minister at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, Jing Quan, told reporters that Pelosi’s mission to support the democratic government of Taiwan had “severe impact on the political foundation of Sino-US relations, and seriously violated China’s sovereignty and (regional) integrity and…undermined peace and stability across Taiwan Strait.
In the long run, the confrontational relationship between China and the United States greatly threatens the balance under which Presidents Joe Biden and the Xi Jinping government fight over human rights, trade, competition, and countless other issues, but have avoided direct conflict and maintained high-level contacts now and then. Other issues, including reducing climate-damaging emissions.
The US-China joint agreement to combat climate change struck by Xi and President Barack Obama in November 2014 is credited as a turning point that led to the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement in which almost every country in the world vowed to try to rein it in. greenhouse gas emissions. Seven years later during climate talks in Glasgow, another deal between the United States and China helped smooth the bumps in another international climate agreement.
China and the United States rank first and second in climate pollution in the world, and together they produce nearly 40% of all fossil fuel emissions.
Unfortunately, experts on China-US relations have warned that China’s diplomatic and military moves appear to go beyond retaliatory measures for the visit and could open a new, more openly hostile era, and a more uncertain time for Taiwan’s democratic government.
Bonnie Glaser, head of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund, said relations between China and the United States were “in a downward spiral.”
“And I think China is likely to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait in ways that are detrimental to Taiwan and will be unfavorable to the United States,” Glaser said.
In recent years, other rounds of tensions between China and its neighbors on India’s borders, territorial islands, and the South China Sea have ended with China asserting and imposing new territorial claims, as John Colfer, a former national intelligence officer in East Asia, now notes. Senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. Culver said the same could happen now in Taiwan. “So I don’t know how this ends. We’ve seen how it begins.”
China’s actions this week are the latest steps aimed at punishing the United States for allowing the visit to the island it claims to be its territory, by force if necessary, to be annexed. On Thursday, China launched threatening military exercises off the coast of Taiwan, and they will continue until Sunday.
Chinese officials told state media that some missiles were sent over Taiwan itself – a significant increase in China’s threat to the island.
China routinely complains when Taiwan has direct contacts with foreign governments, but its response to Pelosi’s visit – she was the highest-ranking US official in 25 years – has been extraordinarily strong.
He appears to be blocking a rare encouraging note – high-level personal meetings between senior officials in recent months including defense chiefs at the Asia Security Conference in Singapore and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken at the G-20 meeting. in Indonesia.
Those conversations were seen as steps in a positive direction in a toxic relationship. Now, talks have been suspended even on the climate, as envoys of the two countries have met several times.
China has stopped short of boycotting economic and trade talks, as it looks to Biden to raise tariffs that President Donald Trump has imposed on imports from China.
On Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that dialogue between US and Chinese regional leaders and heads of the two defense ministries would be cancelled, along with talks on military maritime safety. The ministry said cooperation on repatriation of illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, cross-border crimes, illegal drugs and climate change will be suspended.
China’s actions come ahead of a major congress of the ruling Communist Party later this year, when President Xi is expected to get a third five-year term as party leader. With the economy faltering, the party stoked nationalism and launched near-daily attacks on the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, which refuses to recognize Taiwan as part of China.
China said on Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships took part in live-fire military exercises around Taiwan over the past two days. Also, mainly symbolic sanctions were announced against Pelosi and her family.
On the Chinese coast, fighter planes could be heard flying overhead, and tourists who took pictures chanted, “Let’s go back to Taiwan,” as they look out over the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan Island, a famous scenic area in China’s Fujian Province. .
Wang Lu, a tourist from neighboring Zhejiang Province, said Pelosi’s visit stirred up emotions among the Chinese public, and the government’s reaction “makes us feel that our motherland is very strong and gives us confidence that the return of Taiwan is the irresistible trend.”
Liu Bolin, a high school student visiting the island, said that China “is a strong country and will not allow anyone to offend its territory.”
China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and its threat to use force to regain control has appeared in communist party statements, the education system, and state-controlled media for more than seven decades since the two sides split amid the civil war in 1949.
Taiwan residents overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands that the island unite with the mainland under communist control.
Outside Taiwan, five of the missiles launched by China fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone off the southernmost island of Hatruma, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said Japan has protested against China’s guided missiles, describing them as “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”
And in Tokyo, where Pelosi is concluding her Asian trip, she said China could not prevent US officials from visiting Taiwan.
Associated Press writer David Rising wrote from Phnom Penh. Associated Press writers Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, and Seth Borenstein and Eric Tucker in Washington have contributed.