China has warned of “strong measures” if the US insisted on “having its own way” by going through with a visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
In a statement on Thursday, China’s foreign ministry responded to reports that the US House of Representatives speaker was set to visit Taipei city next week by saying any such visit would severely impact US-Chinese relations.
The two countries have a strained relationship and China has repeatedly asserted Taiwan as its own territory.
“If the United States insists on having its own way, China will take strong measures in response to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters in Beijing.
“All possible consequences that arise from this will completely be borne by the US side,” he added, without giving details.
State controlled Global Timesin an editorial, called Ms Pelosi’s probable visit “the most serious provocation by Washington to China on the Taiwan question” and recommended strict measures from Beijing to prevent the visit.
“While the crisis in Ukraine is still ongoing, the US should be appeasing China in exchange for not increasing support for Russia. However, the US is deliberately taking the offensive toward China, hitting China’s bottom line and trying to pressure China into strategic submission,” the editorial further said.
The visit has not been confirmed by Ms Pelosi’s office or by Taiwan’s government. Japanese and Taiwanese media have reported that it could take place after she completes a tour of Japan this weekend.
In Taipei, Taiwan foreign ministry spokesperson Joanne Ou would only say that inviting US officials and dignitaries had always been “an important part” of the ministry’s work and that it would announce any official visits at an appropriate time.
The coming Sunday will mark the 43rd anniversary of the US signing into law the Taiwan Relations Act, which guides ties in the absence of formal diplomatic relations and enshrines a US commitment to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.
If Ms Pelosi goes forward with a visit, it would be seen as an act of American support for Taiwan while Beijing continues to assert its dominance over the democratically ruled region.
The potential visit could become historic in many ways as the last visit to Taiwan by a House speaker occurred in 1997, when Newt Gingrich met then-president Lee Teng-hui.
Ms Pelosi, a long time critic of China – particularly on human rights issues – held a virtual meeting with Taiwan vice president William Lai in January as he wrapped up a visit to the US and Honduras.
Ms Pelosi is one of the ruling Democratic party’s most high-profile politicians and is said second in the US presidential line of succession after the vice president.
In March, a delegation of former senior US defense and security officials sent by President Joe Biden visited Taiwan, a strong show of support coming soon after Russia invaded Ukraine.
While the US has been more forthcoming in its support to the island nation under the Biden administration amid Beijing’s repeated provocations, Sino-US relations have become increasingly strained over time.
Additional reporting by agencies