Beijing (AFP) – China said on Friday it was ending cooperation with the United States on key issues such as climate change, anti-drug efforts and military talks as relations between the two superpowers soured over Taiwan.
Beijing has reacted strongly to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which it claims as its territory and has vowed to retake by force if necessary.
He has been under siege since Thursday on the self-governing, democratic island, which has been strongly condemned by the United States and other Western allies.
And on Friday his foreign ministry hit back at the United States, suspending talks and cooperation on several agreements between the two – including on climate change.
Last year the world’s two biggest polluters pledged to work together to accelerate climate action this decade and to meet regularly “to tackle the climate crisis”.
But the accord, like agreements on everything from military talks to counter-narcotics cooperation, appears shaky as relations have hit some lows in years.
Pelosi – who was also barred from the visit by Beijing – defended her trip to Taiwan, saying on Friday that Washington would not allow China to isolate the island.
In Washington, the White House summoned China’s ambassador to Washington to condemn Beijing’s “irresponsible” behavior toward Taiwan, a senior US official said on Friday.
Taiwan has condemned Beijing’s response to the visit, with Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang urging allies to press for de-escalation.
“(We) didn’t expect that the rogue neighbor would show its power at our doorstep and uncontrollably endanger the world’s busiest waterways with its military exercises,” he told reporters.
‘Our motherland is powerful’
Beijing has said its military exercises will continue until Sunday afternoon, and Taipei reported that 68 Chinese aircraft and 13 warships crossed the “central line” that runs through the Taiwan Strait on Friday.
AFP journalists on the Chinese island of Pingtan saw a fighter jet take off, prompting tourists to snap photos of the flight over the beach. A Chinese military ship passing through the Taiwan Strait was also visible, he added.
China’s drills included a “conventional missile firepower attack” in waters east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.
And state broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles had flown directly over Taiwan – a major escalation if officially confirmed. On China’s Pingtan Island, local tourists proudly boasted of their country’s military might against its smaller neighbors.
“Our motherland is powerful. We are not afraid to go to war with Taiwan, America or any country in the world,” Liu, a 40-year-old tourist from Zhejiang province, told AFP.
“We hope to unite Taiwan soon. We are not afraid of anyone,” he added. “We don’t want to start a war, but we don’t fear others.”
Wang, a businesswoman, was more forthright about the potential for cross-Strait relations. “I hope China can unify Taiwan, but I don’t want war,” she said. “I hope this issue can be resolved peacefully.”
The scale and intensity of China’s drills have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies. “These provocative actions are a significant escalation,” US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said after talks with Southeast Asian foreign ministers at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.
“In fact, the Speaker’s visit was peaceful. There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response,” he added. China’s foreign minister warned the United States and urged Washington not to escalate tensions.
“The US has a habit of creating problems and then using these problems to achieve its goals. But this approach will not work with China,” Wang Yi said at a press conference on the sidelines of the same summit. “We want to warn the US not to act hastily and create a bigger crisis.”
Japan has filed a formal diplomatic complaint against Beijing, believing five Chinese missiles landed in its exclusive economic zone.
On Friday, Japan’s foreign ministry said China had “cancelled” a planned bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.
And Australia – which has a troubled relationship with China, its biggest trading partner – condemned the drills as “unequal and destabilising”. The world’s busiest shipping lanes are used to transport the world’s supply of critical semiconductors and electronic equipment manufactured in East Asia.