The fallout continued Friday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan as China announced it was canceling dialogue with the United States on military talks and climate change.
China’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that working meetings with the US Department of Defense and the China-US Maritime Military Security Consultative Mechanism had been canceled following Pelosi’s visit.
The ministry said it would no longer cooperate with the United States on talks on climate change, drug control, repatriation of illegal immigrants, criminal investigations and tackling transnational crimes.
These were seen as the remaining guardrails to a strained relationship between the United States and China, but Beijing has long said the only guardrail that matters is the “One China” principle – that the United States United recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, but only recognizes the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.
This action raises questions about the potential impact on global climate benchmarks, as China and the United States are the world’s top climate polluters. Just last year, the United States and China jointly pledged to take “enhanced climate action” to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The White House “summoned” Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang over China’s provocative actions overnight, spokesman John Kirby said in a statement, and made it clear that these actions “are of concern to Taiwan, we and our partners around the world”.
Kirby also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the one-China policy, as did Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Later Friday, the White House spokesman specifically addressed China’s halt to climate talks, calling the decision “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“China is not just punishing the United States with this, with these actions, but it is actually punishing the whole world,” he said. “The world’s largest emitter is now refusing to commit to the critical steps needed to tackle the climate crisis, which is in fact impacting our partners, from rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands to fires across Europe.”
Kirby also downplayed China’s decision to break military engagements, saying that Beijing “regularly pursues these types of engagements to signal its displeasure with the United States.”
Pelosi and members of a congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday despite warnings not to come from mainland China. Pelosi, the most senior US official to visit Taiwan in decades, said the trip – which also includes stops in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia – aims to “move a region forward free and open Indo-Pacific”.
In response, China has also stepped up military exercises and imposed new trade restrictions on Taiwan.
Kirby confirmed on Thursday that China launched around 11 ballistic missiles towards Taiwan, hitting areas northeast, east and southeast of the island.
“We condemn these actions, which are irresponsible and contrary to our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” Kirby said.
The United States expects these actions to continue over the coming days, Kirby said, noting that the United States is “prepared” for whatever Beijing decides to do.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense on Friday released new figures indicating that China has deployed 68 fighter jets and 13 warships in areas and waters around Taiwan. Taiwan’s President, President Tsai Ing-Wen, said the nation remained on high alert.
Kirby said Thursday that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group would remain in the “general area to monitor the situation” and “in fact conduct standard air and sea transits through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.” .
Blinken called China’s response on Friday a “serious overreaction.”
“The fact is that the speaker’s visit was peaceful,” the secretary of state said between meetings of the ongoing conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia. “There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and incremental military response.”
Pelosi herself commented on China’s reaction to the trip at a Friday press conference alongside the rest of the congressional delegation, saying Beijing was “probably using our visit as an excuse” for its missile strikes.
“Our friendship with Taiwan is strong,” she said. “It’s bipartisan in the House and Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”
Republicans in Congress this week applauded Pelosi’s trip, with more than half of the GOP Senate caucus signing a statement supporting his decision to travel to Taiwan.
Pelosi has also been sanctioned by China, meaning neither she nor her family will be able to travel to mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.
When asked on Friday whether Pelosi was responsible for the breakdown in US-China relations, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Pelosi had “the right” to go to Taiwan.
“There was no reason to have this escalation that we see from China,” Jean-Pierre said.
– ABC News’ Molly Nagle, Lauren Minore, Joe Simonette and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.
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