China’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that China will take “resolute and strong measures” if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi embarks on the alleged plans to visit Taiwan.
Pelosi, who is second in the presidency, is scheduled to visit Autonomous island China claims to be its own territory In August, according to a report in financial times.
She was originally scheduled to visit in April but had to postpone it after she tested positive for Covid-19.
Pelosi will be the highest-ranking US lawmaker to visit a close ally of the United States since her predecessor, Newt Gingrich, traveled there 25 years ago.
China vowed to annex Taiwan by force if necessary, and announced this threat by flying warplanes near Taiwanese airspace and conducting military exercises based on invasion scenarios.
It says the measures are aimed at deterring defenders of the island’s official independence and foreign allies – primarily the United States – from helping it, after more than 70 years of division between the two sides amid a civil war.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijiang said at a daily briefing that Pelosi’s visit “will severely undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously affect the foundations of Sino-US relations and send a seriously wrong signal to the Taiwan independence forces.”
“If the United States insists on going the wrong way, China will take resolute and strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Zhao said.
White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre declined to comment on Pelosi’s expected visit to Taiwan.
Jean-Pierre said US support for Taiwan remains “very solid,” while emphasizing the United States’ longstanding commitment to the “one China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the government of China but allows informal and defense ties with Taipei.
China has also hardened its rhetoric in recent days over US arms sales to Taiwan, demanding the cancellation of a deal worth about $108 million that would boost its armed forces’ chances of survival against its much larger adversary.
China has the world’s largest standing army, with an increasingly sophisticated navy and a huge stockpile of guided missiles across the 180-kilometre-wide Taiwan Strait.
“The People’s Liberation Army… will resolutely thwart any form of interference by outside forces and Taiwan independence separatist schemes,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday.
While Washington maintains a policy of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it will defend Taiwan in a conflict with China, US law requires it to ensure the island has the means to defend itself and consider threats to its security a matter of “grave concern”. Washington maintains informal relations only with Taiwan out of respect for Beijing, but it is the island’s strongest political ally and exporter of defensive weapons.
Zhao did not elaborate on possible measures China might take in response to Pelosi’s visit, but Beijing has generally used military flights and war games to signal its displeasure. Chinese pilots have also been accused of taking aggressive action toward reconnaissance aircraft from the United States and its allies operating in international airspace off the Chinese coast, while using lasers and other methods to harass foreign warships in the South China Sea.
China’s most serious threat against Taiwan came in 1995-1996, when it conducted military exercises and launched missiles into the waters north and south of the island in response to President Lee Teng-hui’s visit to the United States.