China cuts off vital US contacts over Pelosi Taiwan visit
China cut off contacts with the United States on vital issues Friday – including military matters and crucial climate cooperation – as concerns rose that the Communist government’s hostile reaction to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit could signal a lasting, more aggressive approach toward its US rival and the self-ruled island.
China’s move to freeze key lines of communication compounded the worsening of relations from Pelosi’s visit and from the Chinese response with military exercises off Taiwan, including firing missiles that splashed down in surrounding waters.
After the White House summoned China’s ambassador, Qin Gang, late Thursday 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 blasted 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 military officials in the two countries. He repeated daily assurances that the US had not changed its policy toward the Communist mainland and the self-ruled island.
“Bottom line is we’re going to continue our efforts to keep opening lines of communication that are protecting our interests and our values,” Kirby said. He declined to speak about 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 staged civil defence drills, but the overall mood remained calm on Friday. Flights have been cancelled or diverted and fishermen have remained in port to avoid the Chinese drills.
On the Chinese coast across from 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 of support for the democratic government of Taiwan has had “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, seriously infringed upon China’s sovereignty and (territorial) integrity and ... undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.”
Long term, a significantly more confrontational relationship between China and the US threatens an equilibrium under which Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping’s governments have sparred on human rights, trade, competition and countless other issues but avoided direct conflict and maintained occasional top-level contacts toward other matters, including cutting climate-damaging emissions.