“China’s not just punishing the United States with this, with these actions but they’re actually punishing the whole world”
Fallout continued Friday from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan as China announced it is canceling dialogue with the United States on military talks and climate change.
The Chinese foreign ministry said Friday that working meetings with the U.S. Department of Defense and China-U.S. Maritime Military Security Consultation Mechanism have been canceled as a result of Pelosi’s visit.
The ministry said it will also no longer be cooperating with the U.S. on climate change talks, drug control, repatriation of illegal immigrants, criminal investigations and combating transnational crimes.
These were seen as the remaining guardrails to a fraught U.S.-China relationship, but Beijing has long said that the only guardrail that matters is the “One China” principle — that the U.S. recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China but only acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China.
The action raises questions on the potential impact for global climate benchmarks, as China and the U.S. are the world’s top climate polluters. Just last year, the U.S. and China issued a joint pledge to take “enhanced climate actions” to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement of limiting warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The White House “summoned” China’s ambassador Qin Gang over China’s provocative actions overnight, spokesperson John Kirby said in a statement, and made it clear that the actions are “of concern to Taiwan, to us, and to our partners around the world.”
Kirby also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the One China policy, as has Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Later Friday, the White House spokesman specifically addressed China’s halting of climate talks, calling the decision “fundamentally irresponsible.”
“China’s not just punishing the United States with this, with these actions but they’re actually punishing the whole world,” he said. “The world’s largest emitter now is refusing to engage on critical steps necessary to stand up to combat the climate crisis, which actually impacts our partners, from rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands to fires across Europe.”
Kirby also downplayed China’s decision to break off military engagements, saying Beijing “regularly goes after these sorts of engagements to signal their displeasure with the United States.”
Pelosi and members of a congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday despite warnings not to from mainland China. Pelosi, the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in decades, said the trip — which also includes stops in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia — is about “advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific region.”
In response, China has also ramped up military drills and imposed new trade restrictions on Taiwan.
Kirby confirmed on Thursday that China launched an estimated 11 ballistic missiles towards Taiwan, impacting areas to the northeast, the east and southeast of the island.
“We condemn these actions, which are irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and in the region,” Kirby said.
The U.S. expects these actions to continue over the coming days, Kirby said, noting the U.S. is “prepared” for what Beijing decides to do.
The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense released new numbers on Friday stating China’s deployed 68 fighter jets, 13 warships to the areas and waters around Taiwan. Taiwanese President President Tsai Ing-Wen said the nation remains on high alert.
Kirby said Thursday The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and its strike group would remain in the “general area to monitor the situation” and would actually “conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks.”
Blinken on Friday called China’s response a “serious overreaction.”
“The fact is, the speaker’s visit was peaceful,” the secretary of state said in between meetings at the ongoing Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference in Cambodia. “There is no justification to this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response.”
Pelosi herself commented on China’s reaction to the trip during a press conference Friday alongside the rest of the congressional delegation, stating Beijing was “probably using our visit as an excuse” for their missile strikes.
“Our friendship with Taiwan is a strong one,” she said. “It is bipartisan in the House and the Senate, overwhelming support for peace and the status quo in Taiwan.”
Republicans in Congress this week have applauded Pelosi’s trip, with more than half the GOP caucus in the Senate signing onto a statement backing her decision to go to Taiwan.
Pelosi has also been sanctioned by China, which means that neither she nor her family will be able to visit Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau.
When asked Friday if Pelosi bore any blame for the rupture in U.S.-China relations, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Pelosi had “the right” to go Taiwan.
“There was no reason to have this escalation that we’re seeing from China,” Jean-Pierre said.