China threatens ‘strong measures’ if Pelosi visits Taiwan

BEIJING (Reuters) – China will take “resolute and strong action” if U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi goes ahead with plans to visit Taiwan, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

Pelosi, who is the second-place president, is due to visit the self-governing island that China claims as its own territory in August, according to a Financial Times report.

She was originally scheduled to travel in April, but had to postpone after testing positive for COVID-19.

Pelosi would be the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit the close US ally since his predecessor as a lecturer, Newt Gingrich, visited there 25 years ago.

China has vowed to annex Taiwan by force if necessary, and announced this threat by flying fighter jets near Taiwanese airspace and holding military drills based on invasion scenarios. He says the actions are aimed at deterring supporters of the island’s formal independence and foreign allies – mainly the United States – from coming to his aid, more than 70 years after the parties split mid-war. civil.

A visit by Pelosi would “seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously affect the foundations of China-US relations, and send a seriously wrong signal to Taiwan independence forces,” the spokesman said. Foreign Ministry Zhao Lijiang at a daily press briefing.

“If the United States were to insist on taking the wrong path, China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan. Jean-Pierre said U.S. support for Taiwan remains “rock-solid,” while reiterating the U.S.’s long-standing commitment to the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the government of the China but allows informal relations and defense links with Taipei.

In recent days, China has also intensified its rhetoric over US arms sales to Taiwan, demanding the cancellation of a deal worth around $108 million that would increase its armed forces’ chances of survival. against his far greater enemy. China has the largest standing army in the world, with an increasingly sophisticated navy and a huge inventory of missiles aimed across the 180 kilometers (100 miles) wide Taiwan Strait.

“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army … will resolutely thwart any form of interference by outside forces and separatist ‘Taiwan independence’ plots,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday.

While Washington maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would defend Taiwan in a conflict with China, US law requires it to ensure the island has the means to defend itself and regards threats to his security as matters of “serious concern”.

Washington only maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan out of respect for Beijing, but is the island’s strongest political ally and source of defensive weapons.

Zhao gave no details about potential actions China might take in response to Pelosi’s visit, but Beijing has generally used military flights and war games to signal displeasure. Chinese pilots have also been accused of acting aggressively against US and allied surveillance aircraft operating in international airspace off the coast of China, while using lasers and other methods to harass foreign warships in the South China Sea.

China’s most serious threat to Taiwan came in 1995-96, when it held military exercises and launched missiles into waters north and south of the island in response to a visit to the United States. of then-president Lee Teng-hui.

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