VSHina called on the United States to refrain from passing warships through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
China’s ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, said on Tuesday that China sees the Taiwan transits as an escalation by the United States and an effort to support the “separatist” government in Taipei. He issued the warning after Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, concluded the second trip to the island in less than two weeks by a US congressional delegation.
“The US side has overdone it and gone too far in this area,” Qin said in response to a question about possible naval patrols. “I call on our American colleagues to abstain, to show restraint, to do nothing to escalate the tension. So if there are actions that undermine the territorial integrity and sovereignty of China, China will react, China will respond.
Read more: Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan is a ‘wake-up call’ for the US and China
The Biden administration said it would conduct air and sea transits across the Taiwan Strait after China responded to Pelosi’s trip with a series of military drills around the island, including likely firing missiles ballistic over Taipei. The United States has long maintained that such transits, such as visits to Congress, are consistent with its “one China” policy of not officially recognizing the democratically elected government in Taipei.
The navy has averaged about nine trips a year across the strait over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, far fewer than the “100 sailings” that Qin said the United States makes each year. The most recent known voyage was on July 19, when the destroyer, USS Benfold, passed through the waterway.
Likewise, Pelosi was only the oldest of the 149 members of Congress who have visited Taiwan over the past 10 years.
The Biden administration should not underestimate China’s resolve on the issue of U.S. congressional visits to Taiwan, Qin said, rejecting White House arguments that lawmakers could act independently. He added that such trips violate the agreements that underpin US-China relations.
“Congress is part of the government of the United States – it is not an independent, uncontrollable branch,” Qin said. “Congress is obligated to respect the foreign policy of the United States. That is why we feel very frustrated and dissatisfied with Senator Markey’s visit to Taiwan. It’s provocative, it’s useless.
Read more: There’s no benefit to a Pelosi visit to Taiwan
Separately, a bipartisan group of Japanese lawmakers plan to visit Taiwan next week, Kyodo News reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The Defense Ministry in Tokyo previously said Chinese ballistic missiles landed in what Japan considers its exclusive economic zone after Pelosi’s trip.
Qin defended the Chinese military’s response to the trip, saying the drills were “open, transparent and professional”.
“We are dealing with the severe fallout from Pelosi’s visit,” Qin told reporters in Washington. He warned the United States not to “underestimate the firm resolve, determination and ability of the Chinese government and people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Qin also downplayed the threat of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan, saying he was unaware of a specific timeline.
“People are too nervous about it,” he said, adding that speculation China had made about the timing of an invasion was “baseless.”
—With help from Kari Lindberg, Christopher Anstey and Daniel Ten Kate
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