BEIJING – China reacted with fury to United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, with at least five government departments strongly condemning what it called “extremely dangerous” moves as the military announced a series of exercises around the island beginning Tuesday night.
China also summoned the US ambassador in Beijing on Tuesday to rebuke him over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “egregious” trip to Taiwan, state media reported.
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng voiced “strong protests” over Mrs Pelosi’s visit to the self-governing island, which China considers part of its territory, during his talk with Ambassador Nicholas Burns.
“The move is extremely egregious in nature and the consequences are extremely serious,” Mr Xie was quoted as saying by China’s state news agency Xinhua. “China will not sit idly by.”
Earlier, in a late-night statement sent out moments after Mrs Pelosi and her delegation disembarked in Taipei close to 11pm local time on Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry said: “(The visit) gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence’.”
“China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious demarche and strong protest to the United States.”
The statement added that the visit would have a “severe impact” on the political foundation of bilateral relations, and that the executive branch, which includes the US President, had the responsibility to stop such a visit.
As the second in line to the American presidency after the Vice-President, Mrs Pelosi is the most senior US politician to visit the island in 25 years.
Beijing regards the self-ruling island as a breakaway province that needs to be retaken, by force if necessary.
While Washington does not have official diplomatic ties with Taipei, it is obliged by US law to provide the island with the means to defend itself.
China’s defence ministry called the visit a “malicious provocation” which would inevitably lead to “serious consequences”.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army is on high alert and will launch a series of targeted military operations to counter it,” said Ministry of National Defence spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian.