WASHINGTON: Ties between the United States
and China nosedived on Friday after Beijing suspended talks with US on a range of issues from climate change to anti-drug efforts, and both sides summoned envoys to condemn each others actions following the controversial visit to Taiwan
of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
earlier this week.
"After China’s actions overnight, we summoned Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche him about the PRC’s provocative actions,” the Biden
White House said, adding that China's firing of missiles in the Taiwan Straits "are irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability" in the region.
China had earlier summoned US ambassador to Beijing Nicholas Burns to protest Pelosi's visit, even though the Biden administration insisted there was no change in US policy vis-a-vis China and Taiwan, and US lawmakers had routinely visited Taiwan.
The White House said it highlighted to Qin a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized democracies that stressed that China should not use Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for aggressive military action in the Taiwan Strait.
"Nothing has changed about our one-China policy. We also made clear that the United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do. We will not seek and do not want a crisis. At the same time, we will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, consistent with international law, as we have for decades — supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific," a White House spokesperson told the media.
China on its part alleges that the Pelosi visit is an effort by Washington to change the status quo and develop formal official US ties with Taiwan.
In a Washington Post op-ed, ambassador Qin pointed out that Pelosi's office had described her trip as an "official visit to Taiwan," she had traveled on a US military aircraft, and "she was given full-protocol treatment by Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities, who make no secret of pursuing independence in their party platform."
"Such a visit has openly broken America’s commitment not to develop official relations with Taiwan," he wrote, adding that "these are extremely irresponsible, provocative and dangerous moves."
The Chinese ambassador accused the ruling dispensation in Taiwan of "trying to sever historical and cultural bonds with the mainland, erasing national identity and stoking confrontation." The United States, meanwhile, he alleged, "sees Taiwan as a means to contain China and has been hollowing out the one-China principle." In the past 18 months alone, the United States has made five rounds of arms sales to Taiwan, he pointed out.
While the Biden White House publicly defended Pelosi's visit, there are accounts of deep misgivings about the trip, which came at a time ties between Washington and Beijing are already strained. Biden and his foreign policy aides indicated clearly that they did not approve of the visit, but Pelosi, who at 82 is now the grand dame of the Democratic Party and a political force in her own right, evidently forced the issue.
During a visit to Japan on her way back from Taiwan, Pelosi doubled down her Taiwan stopover, saying she won't let China decide her travel schedule.
“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan. They are not doing our traveling schedule," she said.