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China threatens US over warships near Taiwan

President of China Xi Jinping. (Kremlin/Released)
August 18, 2022

On Tuesday, China threatened the United States, saying it “will respond” if the U.S. sails naval vessels through the Taiwan Strait. The threat comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently visited Taiwan, heightening tensions between the U.S. and China. 

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Qin Gang, China’s ambassador to the U.S., said China sees U.S. movements in the Taiwan Strait as escalatory, arguing they are displays of force in support of the “separatist” Taipei government, Bloomberg reported.

“The US side has done too much and going too far in this region,” Qin said of the Taiwan Strait. “I do call on our American colleagues to refrain, to exercise restraint, not to do anything to escalate the tension. So if there’s any moves damaging China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, so China will respond. China will respond.”

The U.S. has insisted that transits in the Taiwan Strait, including congressional visits, are in line with the “one China” policy. The U.S. Navy has traveled through the Taiwan Strait around nine times a year for the last decade, Bloomberg reported.  

“Congress is part of the government of the US — it’s not an independent, uncontrollable branch,” Qin said. “Congress is obliged to abide by the foreign policy of the United States. That’s why we we feel very frustrated and dissatisfied with Senator Markey’s visit to Taiwan. It’s provocative, it’s unhelpful.”

Qin also defended the Chinese military’s exercises in the region during and after Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, calling them “open, transparent and professional.”

“We are handling a serious fallout from Pelosi’s visit,” Qin said, adding that the Biden administration should not “underestimate the strong resolve, determination and the capability of the Chinese government and the people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 

Qin added that “people are over-nervous” about an imminent Chinese attack on Taiwan.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Navy admiral in charge of the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet said on Tuesday that the Chinese military has been putting U.S. military aircraft in danger with increasing reckless intercepts.

During a press briefing in Singapore, Vice Adml. Karl Thomas said he has observed an increase in “unsafe” Chinese aerial intercepts against U.S. and U.S.-allied aircraft over international airspace in the South China Sea, CNBC reported.

“This reported increase in the air is obviously concerning,” Thomas said. 

Thomas warned that even a slight miscalculation in these incidents could be catastrophic.

“It’s not a very forgiving environment if something goes wrong when you’re flying in the air,” he said.