Beijing, Aug 5 (EFE).- China has stepped up its response to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan with a range of measures including the suspension of cooperation mechanisms with Washington, sanctions against the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and sending war ships and aircraft across the Taiwan Strait.
Two days after the veteran politician’s controversial trip, Beijing announced eight measures including the suspension of cooperation in areas such as judicial affairs, climate change, the repatriation of irregular migrants, criminal legal assistance, combating transnational crimes and talks on combating climate change.
It also canceled regular telephone calls between the leaders of the military commands and working meetings between the two powers’ Defense portfolios, as well as those of the Military Maritime Security Consultation Mechanism.
The cancellations mean that there is no longer a mechanism of trust between the armed forces of the two superpowers amid heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait at levels not seen since the 1990s.
Beijing made the decision public barely an hour after imposing sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members for “disregarding China’s concern and strong opposition” to her trip and for “undermining (its) sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
China has also summoned diplomatic representatives from several European countries, the European Union, Japan and Canada over statements made by the G7 foreign ministers regarding Taiwan.
The ministers had called on Beijing on Thursday to refrain from using Pelosi’s recent visit as a “pretext for aggressive military activity in the Taiwan Strait.”
Taiwan said Friday that up to 68 Chinese aircraft and 13 ships remained in the Taiwan Strait and that some of them had crossed the unofficial dividing line on the second day of military maneuvers initiated by Beijing on Thursday in response to Pelosi’s visit.
Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen called China’s live-fire military drills and missile launches around the island as “irrational” and an “irresponsible” act that are fueling tensions in the Indo-Pacific and demanded it “act with reason” and restraint.
In a video message released by the presidential office on Thursday night, the first since US Pelosi’s visit to Taipei on Wednesday, Tsai said the situation “not only undermines the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and encroaches upon our nation’s sovereignty.”
“It also creates high tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, as part of which air and maritime transportation safety, as well as the normal functioning of international trade, are all coming under unprecedented threat,” she added.
She said Taiwan would not contribute to the escalation of tensions but would defend its “sovereignty and security as a bulwark of democracy and freedom.”
Despite the fact that in recent years China has conducted other drills in the Strait, this week’s “cover a larger area, involve more military elements and are expected to be highly effective,” Chinese defense experts quoted by local media reported.
These large-scale war games, which will last until Sunday and which Taiwan has described as “a blockade,” “represent a qualitative leap in the preceding dynamics and, probably, are irreversible. It is something that will go beyond these maneuvers and a trend that is here to stay,” Xulio Ríos, director of the Observatory of Chinese Politics, told Efe.
Ríos predicted that, as a result of this crisis, China will be “more incisive in its military pressure on Taiwan” and “will try to ensure by de facto means greater control over the island and its surroundings”, while explaining that the maneuvers represent “the prelude to an essential change in China’s military approach to Taiwan”.
China, which called Pelosi’s visit a “farce” and a “deplorable betrayal”, claims sovereignty over the island and considers Taiwan a rebel province since Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949, after losing the civil war. EFE