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China threatens US if Pelosi visits Taiwan

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 11, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
April 07, 2022

A Chinese government official said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan “would gravely violate the one-China principle” and the U.S. will be to blame for “all possible consequences that arise” from her visit.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian was asked about Pelosi’s reported plans to visit the island of Taiwan this upcoming Sunday. The Chinese official responded by saying “China resolutely opposes all forms of official contact between the US and Taiwan.”

“Congress is a branch of the US government and should stringently abide by the one-China policy that the US upholds.,” Zhao said. “If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, this would gravely violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US Joint Communiqués, seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, severely impact the political foundation of China-US relations and send an erroneous signal to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”

While Taiwan governs itself like an independent nation, China considers the island a part of its territory. Since 1972, the U.S. has recognized China and Taiwan as a single country, through the so-called “One-China Principle,” but has maintained strategic ambiguity in its stance towards Taiwan, continuing to interact with Taiwanese officials and provide defensive equipment to the island through the Taiwan Relations Act.

Zhao said China “firmly opposes” Pelosi’s planned visit to the island and “has lodged solemn representations with the US side.”

“The US should abide by the one-China principle and the three China-US Joint Communiqués, immediately cancel Speaker Pelosi’s plan to visit Taiwan, stop official contact with Taiwan, and fulfill its commitment of not supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ with real actions,” he added. “If the US insists on having its own way, China will take firm and strong measures to firmly safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. All possible consequences that arise from this will completely be borne by the US side.”

Zhao did not specify what “firm and strong measures” China would impose against Pelosi’s visit, or what “consequences” could arise if she were to go through with the visit.

A 2020 visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach might provide some indication of how China could respond to Pelosi’s visit. In September of 2020, Krach visited the island to attend the memorial service for former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. With his visit, Krach became one of the highest-level U.S. officials to visit the island in decades. China responded to Krach’s visit by flying fighter jets into Taiwanese airspace.

It remains to be seen if Pelosi will follow through on her plans to visit Taiwan. On Thursday, she tested positive for COVID-19. Pelosi’s Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill said she is fully vaccinated and boosted and is asymptomatic. Hammill said Pelosi “will quarantine consistent with CDC guidance.” Guidance from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently states those who test positive for COVID-19 who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic “do not need to stay home” unless they develop symptoms.