BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday imposed visa bans and other sanctions on Taiwanese political figures as it increases pressure on the self-governing island and the United States in response to successive congressional visits.
The sanctions come a day after China announced more military exercises in the seas and skies surrounding Taiwan due to what it called “collusion and provocation between the United States and Taiwan”. There was no word on the timing and scale of the Chinese exercises.
READ MORE: China extends military exercises around Taiwan, raising fears of possible conflict
They were announced on the same day that a delegation from the US Congress met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and after a similar visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most senior member of the US government to visit Taiwan in 25 years. The Chinese government opposes Taiwan having official contact with foreign governments because it considers Taiwan its own territory, and its recent swordplay has underscored its threat to take the island by military force.
Pelosi’s visit was followed by nearly two weeks of threatening Chinese military exercises that included missile fire over the island and incursions by navy ships and warplanes across the median line. of the Taiwan Strait, which has long been a buffer between the parties.
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In Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that China had overreacted with its “provocative and totally unhelpful response to the congressional delegation that visited Taiwan in Beginning of the month”.
Targets of China’s latest sanctions include Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, Bi-khim Hsiao, and lawmakers Ker Chien-ming, Koo Li-hsiung, Tsai Chi-chang, Chen Jiau-hua and Wang Ting-yu, as well as activist Fan of Lin Fei.
They will be banned from traveling to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao, and from having financial or personal relationships with people and entities on the mainland, according to the ruling Communist Party’s Taiwan Labor Office.
The measures were designed to “resolutely punish” those seen as “hardcore elements” supporting Taiwan independence, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang, Legislative Leader You Si-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu were already on China’s sanctions list and will face more restrictions, Xinhua said.
China has no legal authority over Taiwan and it is unclear what effect the sanctions would have. China has refused any contact with the Taiwanese government since shortly after the election of Tsai in 2016, who was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2020.
Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted its appreciation for Congress’ latest visit, adding that “authoritarian #China cannot dictate how #Taiwan democracy wins friends, gains support, remains resilient and shines like a beacon of freedom”.
READ MORE: China cuts vital contact with US over Pelosi visit to Taiwan
Tsai’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party also controls the legislature, and the vast majority of Taiwanese favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence amid strong economic and social ties between the parties.
China accuses the United States of encouraging the island’s independence through arms sales and engagement between American politicians and the island’s government. Washington says it does not support independence, has no formal diplomatic relations with the island and argues the two sides should settle their dispute peacefully – but it is legally bound to ensure the island can defend itself against any attack.
Taiwan put its military on high alert, but took no major countermeasures against Chinese actions. This has translated into a prevailing calm and widespread ambivalence among the public, which has lived under the threat of Chinese attacks for more than seven decades.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced surface-to-air missile and air force drills would be held later in the week.