WASHINGTON (AP) – China on Friday cut ties with the United States on vital issues, including military issues and crucial climate cooperation, as concerns grew that the communist government’s hostile reaction to a visit by President House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Taiwan could signal a more aggressive and durable approach. towards its American rival and the self-governing island.
China’s move to freeze key lines of communication compounded worsening relations following Pelosi’s visit and China’s response with military exercises in Taiwan, including the launch of missiles that splashed into waters surrounding
After the White House summoned China’s ambassador, Qin Gang, on Thursday afternoon to protest the military exercises, White House spokesman John Kirby on Friday condemned the decision to end important dialogue with the United States as “irresponsible”.
The White House spokesman criticized China’s “provocative” actions since Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, which China claims as part of its territory. But Kirby noted that some channels of communication remain open between the two countries’ military officials. He repeated daily assurances that the US had not changed its policy towards the communist mainland and the self-governing island.
“The bottom line is that we will continue our efforts to continue to open lines of communication that protect our interests and our values,” Kirby said. He declined to discuss any damage to long-term relations between China and the United States, calling that a discussion for later.
Taiwan has put its military on alert and held civil defense drills, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been canceled or diverted and fishermen have stayed in port to avoid Chinese drills.
On the Chinese coast opposite Taiwan, tourists gathered to try to catch a glimpse of military aircraft.
A minister at the Chinese embassy in Washington, Jing Quan, told reporters that Pelosi’s mission to support Taiwan’s democratic government has had “a serious impact on the political basis of China-US relations, seriously violated China’s sovereignty and (territorial) integrity and … undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
In the long term, a significantly more confrontational relationship between China and the US threatens an equilibrium under which the governments of Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping have fought over human rights, trade, competition and many other issues but avoided direct conflict and have held occasional top-level contacts on other issues, including reducing climate-damaging emissions.
A joint agreement between the United States and China to fight climate change reached by Xi and then-President Barack Obama in November 2014 is considered a turning point that led to the 2015 Paris accord in which almost every nation in the world pledged to try to slow it down. emissions of heat-trapping gases. Seven years later, during climate talks in Glasgow, another agreement between the United States and China helped soften the blow of yet another international climate agreement.
China and the United States are the world’s number one and two largest climate polluters, and together produce nearly 40% of all fossil fuel emissions.
Ominously, experts in China-US relations warned that China’s diplomatic and military moves appeared to go beyond retaliatory measures for the visit and could usher in a new, more openly hostile era and a more uncertain time for to the democratic government of Taiwan.
China-US relations are “in a downward spiral,” said Bonnie Glaser, head of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund.
“And I think China is likely to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait in ways that will be harmful to Taiwan and will be disadvantageous to the United States,” Glaser said.
In recent years, other rounds of tensions between China and its neighbors on the border with India, regional islands and the South China Sea have resulted in China asserting new territorial claims and enforcing them, he said. note John Culver, a former East Asian national intelligence officer, now. a senior member of the Atlantic Council. The same could now happen in Taiwan, Culver said. “So I don’t know how this ends. We’ve seen how it starts.”
China’s measures this week are the latest moves aimed at punishing the US for allowing the visit to the island it claims as its own territory to annex by force if necessary. China launched threatening military exercises near the coast of Taiwan on Thursday, which will continue until Sunday.
Some missiles were sent flying over Taiwan itself, Chinese officials told state media — a significant increase in China’s threat to the island.
China routinely complains when Taiwan has direct contact with foreign governments, but its response to the visit by Pelosi – she was the highest-ranking US official in 25 years – has been unusually strong.
It appears to derail a rare note of encouragement: high-level face-to-face meetings between senior officials in recent months, including defense chiefs at an Asia security conference in Singapore and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Secretary been Antony Blinken at a meeting of the Group of 20. in Indonesia.
These conversations were seen as steps in a positive direction in a poisoned relationship. Now, talks have been suspended even on climate, where envoys from the two countries had met several times.
China stopped short of disrupting economic and trade talks, where it is seeking to get Biden to lift tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump on Chinese imports.
On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry said dialogue between US and Chinese regional commanders and defense department heads would be cancelled, along with talks on military maritime security. Cooperation on the return of illegal immigrants, criminal investigations, transnational crime, illegal drugs and climate change will be suspended, the ministry said.
China’s actions come ahead of a key ruling Communist Party congress later this year in which President Xi is expected to win a third five-year term as party leader. With the economy stumbling, the party has fueled nationalism and launched almost daily attacks on the government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who refuses to recognize Taiwan as part of China.
China said on Friday that more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships have taken part in live-fire military drills around Taiwan over the past two days. Mostly symbolic sanctions were also announced against Pelosi and her family.
Off China’s coast, fighter jets could be heard flying overhead and tourists taking photos chanted, “Let’s take Taiwan back,” looking out over the blue waters of the Taiwan Strait from Pingtan Island, a popular scenic spot in the Chinese province of Fujian.
Pelosi’s visit has stirred emotions among the Chinese public and the government’s response “makes us feel that our motherland is very powerful and gives us confidence that the return of Taiwan is the irresistible trend,” said Wang Lu, a tourist from the neighboring province of Zhejiang.
China is a “powerful country and will not allow anyone to encroach on its own territory,” said Liu Bolin, a high school student visiting the island.
China’s insistence that Taiwan is its territory and its threat to use force to regain control have featured in statements by the Communist Party, the state-controlled education system and media for more than seven decades since the sides split amid civil war in 1949.
Taiwan residents overwhelmingly favor maintaining the status quo of de facto independence and reject China’s demands for the island to join the communist-controlled mainland.
Beyond Taiwan, five of the missiles fired by China landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan’s main islands, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said. He said Japan protested the missiles in China as “serious threats to Japan’s national security and the safety of the Japanese people.”
In Tokyo, where Pelosi is wrapping up her Asia trip, she said China cannot prevent US officials from visiting Taiwan.
AP writer David Rising reported from Phnom Penh. AP writers Huizhong Wu in Taipei, Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Seth Borenstein and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.