° Сhina called on the US to refrain from sailing naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait, saying Beijing would take further action after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
China’s ambassador to Washington, Qing Gan, said on Tuesday that China views such transits through Taiwan as an escalation by the US and an attempt to support the “separatist” government in Taipei. He issued the warning after Sen. Edward Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, finished second travel on the island in less than two weeks by a US congressional delegation.
“The US side has done too much and gone too far in this region,” Qin said in response to a question about potential naval patrols. “I call on our American colleagues to exercise restraint, to exercise restraint, not to do anything to escalate tensions. So if there are any actions that harm China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, China will respond. China will respond.”
The Biden administration said it will conduct air and sea transits across the Taiwan Strait after China responded to Pelosi’s trip with a series of military exercises around the island, including a possible ballistic missile launch over Taipei. The US has long considered such transits, such as visits to Congress, to be consistent with its “one China” policy of not formally recognizing the democratically elected government in Taipei.
The Navy has averaged about nine voyages a year through the strait over the past decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, far fewer than the “100s of navigations,” Qin said, that the U.S. makes each year. The last known voyage was on July 19, when the destroyer USS Benfold passed through the waterway.
Likewise, Pelosi was only the most senior of 149 members of Congress to visit Taiwan in the past 10 years.
The Biden administration should not underestimate China’s determination on the issue of US congressional visits to Taiwan, Qin said, rejecting White House arguments that lawmakers can act independently. He added that such trips violate the agreements that underpin the US-China relationship.
“Congress is part of the U.S. government — it’s not an independent, uncontrollable branch,” Qin said. “Congress has a duty to uphold the foreign policy of the United States. That is why we feel very disappointed and dissatisfied with Senator Markey’s visit to Taiwan. It’s provocative, it’s useless.”
Separately, a bipartisan group of Japanese lawmakers plans to visit Taiwan next week, Kyodo News reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The defense ministry in Tokyo earlier said Chinese ballistic missiles had 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 exercises were “open, transparent and professional.”
“We are dealing with serious fallout from Pelosi’s visit,” Qin told reporters in Washington. He warned the US not to “underestimate the strong resolve, determination and ability of the Chinese government and people to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Qin also played down the threat of an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan, saying he was not aware of a specific timeline.
“People are too nervous about it,” he said, adding that speculation that China had moved the timetable for an invasion was “baseless.”
—With help from Carrie Lindbergh, Christopher Anstey and Daniel Ten Cate
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