China halts climate, military relations with US over Pelosi Taiwan visit - GulfToday

China halts climate, military relations with US over Pelosi Taiwan visit


Nancy Pelosi (L) shakes hands with Hiroyuki Hosoda, speaker of Japan House of Representatives, during a meeting in Tokyo on Friday. AFP

China announced on Friday it was ending all contact with the United States on major issues — including crucial climate cooperation credited with leading to the international 2015 Paris accord — as tensions and public rebukes ratcheted higher between the two powers over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

China's move to freeze key lines of communication adds to a rapid souring of relations from Pelosi’s visit and from the Chinese response with military exercises off Taiwan, including firing missiles that splashed down in surrounding waters.

The White House summoned China's ambassador, Qin Gang, late on Thursday to tell him that the military actions were of "concern to Taiwan, to us and to our partners around the world," said spokesman John Kirby.

Ominously, experts in China-US relations warned that China's diplomatic and military moves appeared 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. China-US relations are "in a downward spiral," said Bonnie Glaser, head of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund.

Fighterjets-China Three French-made Mirage 2000 fighter jets taxi on a runway in front of a hangar at the Hsinchu Air Base in Hsinchu. AFP

China's Foreign Ministry said dialogue between US and Chinese regional commanders and defence department heads would be cancelled, along with talks on military maritime safety. Cooperation on returning illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, illegal drugs and climate change will be suspended, the ministry said.

Kirby said that senior US officials have been meeting regularly with their Chinese counterparts over the dispute. Calling China's actions "provocative,” Kirby said the Biden administration condemned China's military maneuvers as irresponsible and "at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability and across the Taiwan Strait.”

"We also made clear that the United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do,” he said.

China's actions come ahead of a key congress of the ruling Communist Party later this year at which President Xi is expected to obtain a third five-year term as party leader. With the economy stumbling, the party has stoked nationalism and issued 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 have taken part in the live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the past two days, while announcing mainly symbolic sanctions against Pelosi and her family.

The Rocket Force also fired projectiles over Taiwan into the Pacific, military officers told state media, in a major ratcheting up of China’s threats to attack and invade the island.

On the Chinese coast across from Taiwan, tourists gathered on Friday to try to catch a glimpse of any military aircraft heading toward the exercise area.

Fighter jets could be heard flying overhead and tourists taking photos chanted, "Let’s take Taiwan back," looking out into the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan island, a popular scenic spot in China's Fujian province.

Pelosi's visit stirred emotions among the Chinese public, and the government's response "makes us feel our motherland is very powerful and gives us confidence that the return of Taiwan is the irresistible trend,” said Wang Lu, a tourist from neighboring Zhejiang province.

China is a "powerful country and it will not allow anyone to offend its own territory,” said Liu Bolin, a high school student visiting the island.

In Tokyo, where Pelosi is winding up her Asia trip, she said China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan.

China said it summoned European diplomats in the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven industrialised nations and the European Union criticizing the Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan.

Blinken on Friday called the drills a "significant escalation” and said he has urged Beijing to back down. Taiwan has put its military on alert and staged civil defense drills, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and fishermen have remained in port to avoid the Chinese drills.

Associated Press

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