Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has warned other nations not to follow the “political performance” of the United States on Taiwan.
His latest remarks come as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended her trip to the self-ruled island last week and accused Beijing of using the visit as a “pretext” for more aggressive action, after it held days of large-scale military drills around Taiwan.
Wang delivered his message during three separate meetings in recent days with his counterparts from Mongolia, South Korea and Nepal, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement on Wednesday.
He said politicians in some countries had followed Washington’s lead on Taiwan and were taking the opportunity for “political performance” and acting out of “political self-interest”.
“This will seriously undermine the political foundation for engaging with China,” Wang said in the meetings, according to the statement.
The Chinese foreign minister also called on pro-independence forces in Taiwan not to “misjudge the situation and overestimate their ability”. He said Pelosi’s trip was a political provocation and Beijing needed to take action to defend its sovereignty.
But Pelosi on Wednesday said Beijing’s unprecedented military drills after her visit had upended a long-standing status quo in the region.
“What we saw with China is they were trying to establish sort of a new normal, and we just can’t let that happen,” she said, in her first extensive public comments since the trip. “Their pretext was our visit for them to do what they normally do, intensified.”
She added: “We will not allow China to isolate Taiwan.”
Wang did not name any nations in his remarks, but they followed a joint call from the US, Australian and Japanese foreign ministers last week urging Beijing to immediately halt the military exercises around Taiwan. In a joint statement, they said Beijing’s actions “gravely affect international peace and stability”.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also said the drills were a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”, after Japan said five of China’s ballistic missiles had landed in its exclusive economic zone last Thursday.
Top diplomats from the Group of Seven also condemned China’s military drills, saying there was “no justification” to use Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for “aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait”. They also said it was normal and routine for lawmakers from G7 countries to travel internationally in a statement that prompted Beijing to summon diplomats in protest.
Mainland China and Taiwan split in 1949 at the end of a civil war when the Kuomintang was defeated by Communist Party forces and fled to Taipei. Beijing sees Taiwan as part of its territory and has never ruled out the use of force to take control of it. Most countries, including the US, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state, but Washington opposes any attempt to take the island by force.
In addition to the drills, China has also cancelled several regular defence dialogues with the US military and suspended cooperation in areas including climate change and tackling the drugs trade in response to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
Wang justified the response, saying Beijing had to safeguard its territorial integrity and that its actions were aimed at maintaining the “peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait”.
“China must take necessary and resolute countermeasures,” he was quoted as saying.
Wang also said US military activities in the region would add to tensions. The US has said it would conduct transits through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.