Following media speculations that she may visit Taiwan next week, China warned on Thursday that it would take harsh actions if US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi went, saying such a visit would have a negative impact on Chinese-US relations.
China considers democratically administered Taiwan to be its own territory, and the issue is a continual source of contention between Beijing and Washington, particularly given the island’s strong military and political support from the United States.
The visit has not been confirmed by Pelosi’s office or the Taiwanese government, but some Japanese and Taiwanese media have speculated that it may happen after she visits Japan this weekend.
According to Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Beijing is vehemently opposed to any type of formal connection between the United States and Taiwan, and that Washington should cancel the trip.
‘If the US insists on having its own way, China will respond with forceful measures to preserve national sovereignty and territorial integrity. All potential implications will be entirely paid by the United States,’ without going into specifics, he continued.
Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokesman Joanne Ou would only remark that inviting US officials and dignitaries had always been ‘an essential element’ of the ministry’s work, and that any official visits would be announced at the proper time.
The Taiwan Relations Act, which controls relationships in the absence of official diplomatic relations and enshrines a U.S. commitment to help Taiwan with the ability to defend itself, was signed into law 43 years ago on Sunday.
The last time a House speaker visited Taiwan was Newt Gingrich in 1997, when he met then-President Lee Teng-hui.
Pelosi, a long-time opponent of China, notably on human rights problems, conducted a virtual conference with Taiwan Vice President William Lai in January as he finished up a trip to the US and Honduras.
Pelosi is a high-profile member of the ruling Democratic Party and the second in the United States’ presidential line of succession after the vice president.
Taiwan has been encouraged by the Biden administration’s sustained backing for the island, which has frequently stated its ‘rock-solid’ commitment to the island.
This has strained already strained Sino-American relations.
President Joe Biden dispatched a delegation of former senior US defence and security officials to Taiwan in March, a significant show of support coming soon after Russia attacked Ukraine.