US 'will pay price' if Pelosi visits Taiwan, warns Beijing

A final warning: China warned on Tuesday that the United States “will have to pay the price” of a likely visit to Taiwan by the leader of the American congressmen Nancy Pelosi, which could inflame already tense Sino-American relations.

Touring Asia, Nancy Pelosi, 82, would be the highest elected US official to visit the island in 25 years. His visit, unconfirmed, could take place in the next few hours.

It risks provoking a strong resurgence of tension in the region and leading to Chinese reprisals against American and Taiwanese interests.

“The United States will certainly be responsible (for the consequences) and will have to pay the price for its attack on China’s sovereignty and security”Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for Chinese diplomacy, told the press.

“The US side has betrayed its word on the Taiwan issue,” Lamented in a statement Wang Yi, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, in reference to the commitment of the United States, since 1979, to have no official relationship with Taiwan.

As an American military plane supposed to carry Ms. Pelosi approached Taipei on Tuesday evening, Chinese public television CGTN announced that Su-35 fighter jets were “crossing the Taiwan Strait”, without further details.

China considers Taiwan, with a population of around 23 million, to be one of its provinces, which it has yet to successfully reunify with the rest of its territory since the end of the Chinese Civil War ( 1949).

Opposed to any initiative giving the Taiwanese authorities international legitimacy, Beijing is against any official contact between Taiwan and other countries.

Military plane

US officials and parliamentarians regularly visit the island. But China considers that a visit by Ms. Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives and one of the highest figures in the American state, would be a major provocation.

Last week, in a telephone interview with US President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on Americans not to “not play with fire”.

If the White House is embarrassed by the situation, John Kirby, its spokesman, however said Monday that Pelosi had “the right to visit Taiwan”.

“There is no reason for Beijing to make this visit, which does not derogate from long-standing American doctrine, a form of crisis”he estimated.

The last Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to visit Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Most observers rate the likelihood of armed conflict as low. But US officials have said they are preparing for shows of force from the Chinese military, such as missile launches in the Taiwan Strait or aerial incursions around the island.

Nancy Pelosi travels aboard a military plane and although Washington does not fear a direct attack, the risk of a “miscalculation” remains present, judged John Kirby.

“Sheer provocation”

Since 1979, Washington has recognized only one Chinese government, that of Beijing, while continuing to provide support to the Taiwanese authorities, with in particular multiple arms sales.

The United States also practices “strategic ambiguity”: in short, they refrain from saying whether or not they would defend the island militarily in the event of an invasion.

Russia, a major ally of China, on Tuesday accused the Americans of “destabilize the world” and describes Nancy Pelosi’s visit as a “sheer provocation”.

After Singapore, Pelosi was in Malaysia on Tuesday for the second leg of his trip to Asia.

According to the Taiwanese newspaper Liberty Times, which cites anonymous sources, the American leader will land on the island on Tuesday evening and will meet the next day with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, a pet peeve of Beijing because she comes from an independence party.

On Tuesday evening, the Taiwanese presidency also indicated that its website had been briefly taken out of service due to a cyberattack.

She did not give a reason, saying to reinforce her vigilance in the face of the “hybrid information warfare conducted by external forces”.

Military maneuvers

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense said ” determined “ to protect the island against any attack.

“The probability of a war or a serious incident is low”however, tweeted Bonnie Glaser, director of the Asia program of the American think-tank German Marshall Fund.

“But the likelihood that (China) will take a series of military, economic and diplomatic measures (…) is not negligible”she added.

Taiwanese agriculture authorities said on Tuesday that Beijing had suspended the import of certain Taiwanese goods, such as fish products, tea and honey.

Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit is raising tension in the area.

Last week, the Taiwanese military conducted its most important annual military exercises.

For its part, China organized a military exercise on Sunday. “live ammunition” in the Taiwan Strait – very close to the Chinese coast, however. Other exercises are underway in other maritime areas of the country.

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