China warns Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan would cross 'red line'

Nancy Pelosi
Any visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would cross Beijing's "red line", China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned on Thursday, in a rare direct comment on a specific American visitor to the self-ruled island.

Wang warned that Washington would bear sole responsibility for the consequences of a visit, in a phone conversation with French diplomatic counsellor Emmanuel Bonne.

They spoke after Pelosi postponed her trip at the weekend when she tested positive for COVID-19. Although there was no official confirmation, Taipei was reportedly on her itinerary for the weekend, following her departure from Japan.

Pelosi's office did not say when her trip would be rescheduled, nor whether it would include Taiwan.

According to a Chinese foreign ministry statement, Wang accused the U.S. of "a blatant double standard" during his conversation with Bonne. He said the U.S. called for a respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity for Ukraine, but "openly tramples on the red line of the one-China principle" regarding Taiwan.

"If Pelosi, a political leader of the United States, knowingly visits Taiwan, it would be a malicious provocation against China's sovereignty and gross interference in China's internal affairs, and would send an extremely dangerous political signal to the outside world," he said.

"If the United States insists on going its own way, China will surely make a firm response and the US side will bear all the consequences".

China's envoy to Washington Qin Gang and its embassy lodged protests with the U.S. Congress and government and called on Pelosi not to visit Taiwan, according to a statement from the embassy.

The Taiwanese defense ministry said military jets from the mainland had been spotted over the past few days crossing the island's southwest air defense identification zone.

Beijing regards the island as a breakaway province, to be returned to mainland control, by force if necessary.

While Washington has not departed from its long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity, its informal ties with Taipei grew closer under former president Donald Trump, whose secretary of state Michael Pompeo visited the island on a private trip last month.

In 2020, Trump's health secretary Alex Azar became the highest ranking sitting U.S. official to visit Taipei since Washington switched its official ties to Beijing in 1979. In the same year, then undersecretary of state Keith Krach also led a delegation to the island.

Ties have remained close under President Joe Biden, with two separate congressional delegations in November, who met with senior officials in Taipei, including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

But a visit from Pelosi would carry far greater significance, given the power she wields in Washington. The last House speaker to travel to Taipei was Republican Newt Gingrich, who met with then-president Lee Teng-hui in 1997.

Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at Renmin University, said a Pelosi visit to Taiwan would be a provocative action that challenges Beijing's bottom line. Possible responses could include sanctions against Pelosi and more military exercises near the self-ruled island, he said.

"The fundamental policy of the U.S. towards Taiwan has not changed. It is opposed to changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and within this policy framework, it has deepened various support for Taiwan."

Wang Jianmin, a Taiwan issues specialist at Minnan Normal University in Fujian province, said Beijing should take stronger action if Pelosi visited Taiwan, such as suspending high-level dialogue, and cooperation on climate change.

"This is part of the U.S. move to use Taiwan to control China. It will always play the Taiwan card, and it will not even rule out more risky ones in the future," he said.

Source: The Korea Times

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