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China vows 'forceful measures' if US House Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan

In this file photo, US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, holds her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 1, 2020. (By AFP)

China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday warned that Beijing would take "forceful measures" if US House speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Chinese Taipei in August as reported by sections of US media.

The ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian in a regular press briefing said Beijing will take strong measures to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity while asserting that any visit to the island without China’s consent amounts to a violation of the One-China principle.

According to reports, Pelosi is due to visit Chinese Taipei in August. She will be among the highest-ranking US officials to visit the self-ruled territory.

Pelosi’s plan to lead a delegation to Taipei next month was reported first by the Financial Times.

Lijian warned that it would have a “grave impact” on US-China ties. China had issued a similar warning about a planned Pelosi visit in April.

The US House speaker's trip to the Asian continent, originally scheduled to take place in April, was held back after she contracted COVID-19.  

At the time, China said such a visit would severely affect Chinese-US relations, which are already fractured. 

She will be the first sitting US House speaker to visit Chinese Taipei since 1997 when Newt Gingrich traveled to the territory to meet then-Taipei president Lee Teng-hui.

China, which enjoys sovereignty over Taiwan, has repeatedly warned the US against formal ties with the self-ruled territory.

The US does not have a formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan, however, under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, Washington is allowed to sell arms to the island. Beijing maintains that weapon sales to the island violate China’s sovereignty.

The US also recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island, but in an attempted affront to China and violation of its official policy, Washington constantly sells weapons to the Chinese Taipei leadership.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his April meeting with Emmanuel Bonne, the diplomatic adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, said Pelosi’s visit to Chinese Taipei would constitute “gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”  

He asserted that the trip would send “an extremely dangerous signal to the outside world.

Pelosi, a long-time critic of China, had a virtual meeting with the island's vice president William Lai in January after his visit to the United States and Honduras.

The White House had expressed concern about Pelosi's trip, the Financial Times said, citing three people familiar with the situation. The report there were divisions in the Biden administration over whether Pelosi should visit Taiwan.

The reports about Pelosi’s August visit come after China asked the United States on Monday to immediately cancel a potential sale of military-technical assistance to Taiwan worth an estimated $108 million.

The Chinese Taipei remains China’s most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington. China has repeatedly warned the US against any formal relations with the government in Taipei.

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