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China halts dialogue with US over Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan

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A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft flies over the 68-nautical-mile scenic spot, one of mainland China's closest points to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan island, Fujian province, China yesterday. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft flies over the 68-nautical-mile scenic spot, one of mainland China's closest points to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan island, Fujian province, China yesterday. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

A Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft flies over the 68-nautical-mile scenic spot, one of mainland China's closest points to the island of Taiwan, in Pingtan island, Fujian province, China yesterday. Photo: Aly Song/Reuters

China announced yesterday it was halting dialogue with the US in a range of areas, including between special military commanders and on climate change, in a furore over US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

China’s foreign ministry said it was also suspending exchanges with Washington on countering crossborder crime and drug trafficking, all moves Washington called “irresponsible”.

Enraged when Ms Pelosi became the highest-level US visitor in 25 years to the self-governed island that Beijing regards as its territory, China launched military drills in the seas and skies around Taiwan on Thursday.

The live-fire drills, the largest ever conducted by China in the Taiwan Strait, are scheduled to continue until noon tomorrow.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday it scrambled jets to warn away Chinese aircraft it said entered the island’s air-defence zone, some of which crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, an unofficial buffer separating the two sides.

A total of 68 Chinese military aircraft and 13 navy ships had conducted missions in the strait, the ministry said.

China’s Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) said in a statement that it conducted air and sea drills to the north, south-west and east of Taiwan yesterday “to test the troops’ joint combat capabilities”.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said Washington has repeatedly made clear to Beijing it does not seek a crisis over Ms Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which took place on Wednesday during a congressional tour of Asia.

“There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of ASEAN regional meetings in Cambodia, adding: “Now, they’ve taken dangerous acts to a new level.”

Mr Blinken emphasised that the United States would not take actions to provoke a crisis, but it would continue to support regional allies and conduct standard air and maritime transit through the Taiwan Strait.

“We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he said.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi told a media briefing after the ASEAN meetings: “I heard that US secretary of state Blinken held his news conference and spread some misinformation and was not speaking truthfully. We wish to issue a warning to the United States: Do not act rashly, do not create a greater crisis.”

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Jing Quan, a senior Chinese Embassy official in Washington, echoed that, telling a briefing: “The only way out of this crisis is that the US side must take measures immediately to rectify its mistakes and eliminate the grave impact of Pelosi’s visit.”

He said Washington should “avoid pushing China-US relations down the dangerous track of conflict and confrontation”.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby countered that China’s move to suspend some communication channels was “fundamentally irresponsible”.

“There’s nothing here for the United States to rectify. The Chinese can go a long way to taking the tensions down simply by stopping these provocative military exercises and ending the rhetoric,” Mr Kirby told reporters.

China has not mentioned a suspension of military talks at the senior-most levels, such as with US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley. While those talks have been infrequent, officials have said they are important to have in the case of an emergency or accident. Mr Kirby said it was not atypical for China to shut down military talks at times of tension, but that “not all channels” between the two countries’ military leaders had been cut off.

Beijing separately announced that it would impose sanctions on Ms Pelosi personally and her immediate family in response to her “vicious” and “provocative” actions.



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