Beijing, August 5
China on Friday announced sanctions on US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family in retaliation to her high-profile visit to Taiwan this week and cancelled talks with Washington on defence, climate change and a range of other issues.
Pelosi, 82, the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years, visited the island on Tuesday, which Beijing claims as part of it and vows to integrate with the Chinese mainland.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which stridently criticised her visit and lodged stern protests against the US by summoning its Ambassador to China Chris Burns and announced four-day high-intensity military drills in Taiwan Strait, issued a statement on Friday imposing sanctions against Pelosi and her family.
“In disregard of China’s grave concerns and firm opposition, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi insisted on visiting China’s Taiwan region,” the statement said.
“This constitutes gross interference in China’s internal affairs. It gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” it said.
“In response to Pelosi’s egregious provocation, China decides to adopt sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members in accordance with relevant laws of the People’s Republic of China,” it said.
The sanctions against Pelosi are regarded as symbolic and these ban her and her family members from travelling to China.
Earlier, China had imposed sanctions against 28 former Trump Administration officials, including the then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
In another statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced countermeasures against the US, which included cancellation of the China-US Theatre Commanders Talk, China-US Defence Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT), and the China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) meetings.
The ministry also announced the suspension of the China-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants, the China-US cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters, China-US cooperation against transnational crimes, China-US counter-narcotics cooperation, and China-US talks on climate change.
The cancellation of the defence dialogue between the two countries was regarded significant here as the major powers currently involved in intense strategic rivalry held periodic consultations, which observers say helped in avoiding accidental conflicts in hotspot areas like the disputed South China Sea, where the US has stepped up naval and aerial expeditions to assert freedom of navigation.
China’s claims to most of the South China Sea are closely contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
China’s sanctions against Pelosi and the other countermeasures came amid rare vocal criticism by the Chinese, especially in the local media, on Beijing’s failure to stop Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Pelosi’s visit was regarded as a setback for the image of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to get an unprecedented third-five-year term, unlike his predecessors.
He is expected to be endorsed in the once-in-a-five-year Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China in the next few months.
Besides the diplomatic offensive against Pelosi, China has announced four-day military drills since Thursday in which the Chinese military fired ballistic missiles and flew fighter aircraft into the Taiwan Strait in a major show of strength.
Beijing also pressed its aircraft carrier group which included a nuclear submarine into the drills.
“All the missiles hit the target accurately, testing the precision strike and area denial capabilities. The entire live ammunition launch training mission has been successfully completed, and the relevant sea and airspace control has been lifted,” the PLA statement said.
Taiwan has confirmed that the PLA has launched several Dongfeng tactical ballistic missiles capable of flying up to 500km into the northeast and southwest waters of the island on Thursday afternoon, a day after Pelosi left the island.
A statement from the island’s defence ministry said China fired multiple DF series missiles.
It is the first time mainland missiles have flown over the island.
“The defence ministry condemned the irrational actions to undermine regional peace,” the Taiwanese Defence Ministry statement said.
Taiwan also cancelled airline flights Thursday as the Chinese navy fired artillery near the island.
In Tokyo, where Pelosi is winding up her Asia trip, she said China cannot stop US officials from visiting Taiwan.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken criticised the Chinese military drills saying that the firing of missiles around Taiwan was a disproportionate, significant and unjustified escalation and the United States had made it repeatedly clear to China that it was not seeking a crisis.
Blinken told a news conference on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum on Friday that the United States would not be provoked by China and Washington was seriously concerned, adding “there was no possible justification for what they have done”, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Friday said the countermeasures against Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan are justified and not excessive.
Hua hit back at White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby’s comment that China had overreacted.
Hua said the current situation was completely caused by Pelosi and American politicians.
Pelosi’s visit has escalated the substantive relationship between the US and Taiwan, and has seriously violated the “one-China principle”, Hua said.
On Thursday, Hua denounced Pelosi’s statement that the “US stands with Taiwan.” “We often hear US politicians say that they are standing together with so and so, but history and facts have repeatedly shown that whoever the US politicians claim they are standing together with would become the targets of chaos and disaster,” Hua said on Thursday.
“Just look at Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan, and also look at the people responsible for what Pelosi called “a beautiful sight to behold” in Hong Kong and the “Hong Kong independence” separatists. See what has become of them?” Hua added.
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