China says US will ‘bear all consequences’ if Pelosi visits Taiwan

Published July 28, 2022
Beijing has hit back hard against the United States after reports emerged last week that Pelosi could visit Taiwan in August. — AFP
Beijing has hit back hard against the United States after reports emerged last week that Pelosi could visit Taiwan in August. — AFP

BEIJING: China warned on Wednesday that Washington would “bear the consequences” if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan, with tensions soaring ahead of an expected phone call between the two countries’ leaders.

Beijing has hit back hard against the United States after reports emerged last week that Pelosi, a Democrat who is second in line to the presidency, could visit the self-ruled island of Taiwan in August.

The potential visit is likely to dominate a phone call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Joe Biden, which the US leader has said he expects will take place this week.

Ties between the two global superpowers have continued to deteriorate under Biden’s presidency, over issues including Taiwan, human rights and technology sector competition.

Beijing this week warned that it was “getting ready” for a possible visit by Pelosi, which would be the first to Taiwan by a sitting US House speaker since 1997.

“We are firmly opposed to Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular press conference on Wednesday.

“If the US pushes ahead and challenges China’s bottom line... the US side will bear all the consequences,” he added.

A possible visit by Pelosi — yet to be confirmed by the senior Democrat — has stirred alarm in Biden’s administration, which fears the trip may cross red lines for China.

It also comes at an especially fraught time as Chinese President Xi Jinping prepares to cement his rule later this year at a major party meeting amid economic headwinds.

Last week Biden said the US military thought a visit was “not a good idea right now”.

Democratic Taiwan lives under constant threat of being invaded by China, which views it as part of its territory to be seized by force if necessary. China’s air incursions near Taiwan have risen sharply this year as Beijing works to isolate the island on the international stage.

Pelosi told reporters last week it was “important for us to show support for Taiwan”, while denying Congress was pushing for independence for the island.

In 1979 Washington switched relations from Taipei to Beijing, and successive administrations have been careful to recognise only “one China” by not sending top-ranking officials to Taiwan. Washington has had a long-standing policy of strategic ambiguity on whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack on the island.

Biden recently said the United States was ready to defend Taiwan militarily in an invasion — going beyond just providing weapons — although the White House has walked back his remarks.

The US State Department in April approved the potential sale of equipment, training and other items to support Taiwan’s Air Defense System in a deal valued at up to $95 million.

But Taiwan enjoys bipartisan backing in divided Washington and China’s warnings have only fuelled calls for Pelosi to go ahead.

She has long been an outspoken critic of Beijing’s human rights record, in 1991 outraging her hosts by unfurling a banner in Tiananmen Square in memory of pro-democracy demonstrators killed there two years earlier.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
Updated 28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

It's reprehensible how PTI supporters now seem convinced that politicians from opposing camps aren't entitled to basic dignity.
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...
Noon leaks
Updated 27 Sep, 2022

Noon leaks

PMO audio leaks are a national security emergency that ought to be investigated at the highest level.
Cipher probe offer
27 Sep, 2022

Cipher probe offer

CONSIDERING the toxic political polarisation in the country, former prime minister Imran Khan’s suggestion that ...
Delaying Doha plans
27 Sep, 2022

Delaying Doha plans

WHEN Doha announced its intention to spend $3bn in different commercial and investment sectors of Pakistan around a...