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China warns of ‘strong measures’ if US House speaker visits Chinese Taipei

China has expressed firm opposition to any form of official contact between the United States and Chinese Taipei, warning that Beijing would take “strong measures” if US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taipei as part of planned trip to the self-ruled island.

Zhao Lijian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, raised the alarm at a press conference in the capital, Beijing, on Thursday, following media reports that said Pelosi will meet Chinese Taipei’s officials next week after she visits Japan this weekend.

“China firmly opposes any form of official contact between the US and Taiwan. As an integral part of the US government, the US Congress should strictly abide by the One-China principle pursued by the US,” Zhao told reporters at the presser, referring to Chinese Taipei.

Zhao stressed that such a visit would severely disrupt Chinese-US relations and send a serious wrong signal to the forces seeking “Taiwan independence.”

“If US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it will seriously violate the One-China principle, seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, severely harm the political foundation of China-US relations and send a serious wrong signal to the ‘Taiwan independence separatist forces’. China firmly opposes this and has already lodged stern representations with the US side,” he added.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned that Beijing will take “strong” countermeasures if the US continues the move which is in breach of its commitment.

“The US side should honor its commitment to the One-China principle, cancel the planned visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Pelosi, stop its official contact with Taiwan and fulfill its commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence’. If the United States insists on having its own way, China will take strong measures in response, to unswervingly defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. All possible consequences that arise from such a visit will completely be borne by the US side,” Zhao warned.

The last time a US House speaker paid a visit to Chinese Taipei was in 1997, when Newt Gingrich met the self-ruled Island’s then-President Lee Teng-hui.

Pelosi, one of the ruling Democratic Party’s most high-profile politicians and a long-time critic of China, held a virtual meeting with Chinese Taipei’s Vice President William Lai in January as he wrapped up a visit to the United States and Honduras.

Chinese Taipei falls under China’s sovereignty, and under the “one China” policy, almost all world countries — the US included — recognize that sovereignty. But, in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to irritate Beijing, Washington has maintained and recently ramped up diplomatic contact with the self-proclaimed government in Chinese Taipei. Washington is also the island’s largest weapon supplier.

Last month, the United States approved the sale of up to $95 million worth of training and equipment to support Chinese Taipei’s Patriot missile defense system amid heightened tensions between China and the self-ruled island.

The latest arms sale is the third approved under US President Joe Biden, and follows a similar approval in February of equipment and services to boost Taipei’s Patriot missile defense systems.

Last year, the US also sold arms to Chinese Taipei that included drones and coastal missile defenses aimed at upgrading the island’s capabilities against mainland China.

Tensions between Chinese Taipei and China have been at their highest in decades. China has been flying fighter jets close to Chinese Taipei while the US has reportedly had troops deployed in the territory for the past year for training purposes.

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