White House summons Chinese ambassador for rebuke on Taiwan response – The Washington Post

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The White House summoned China’s ambassador on Thursday to condemn Beijing’s escalating actions and threats against Taiwan and to reiterate that the United States does not want a crisis in the region, after a visit to the island by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sharply escalated tensions in the Taiwan Strait over the past week.

“After China’s actions overnight, we summoned [People’s Republic of China] Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche him about the PRC’s provocative actions,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a statement provided to The Washington Post. “We condemned the PRC’s military actions, which are irresponsible and at odds with our long-standing goal of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” A démarche is a protest lodged through diplomatic channels.

The summoning of the ambassador to deliver a formal rebuke was the latest episode in a widening diplomatic crisis as President Biden seeks to manage volatile confrontations between the United States and two other world powers. Even as tensions brew between the United States and China over Pelosi’s trip, Biden is striving to keep Beijing from aiding Russia in its scorched-earth war against Ukraine.

On Friday, China said it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the United States on a range of issues, from climate change to military relations and anti-drug efforts. That announcement followed a show of military force by China that included firing missiles into the sea around Taiwan and threatening its territorial waters.

The White House reiterated to Qin that it wants to keep all lines of communication open and that nothing has changed about the United States’ one-China policy, which recognizes the administration in Beijing as the sole government of China. But the White House also stressed that it found Beijing’s actions unacceptable and would stand up for its values in the Indo-Pacific region.

The meeting, which has not been previously reported, was between Qin and Kurt Campbell, deputy assistant to Biden and coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council, according to a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private conversation.

China’s actions Thursday increased military tensions in the Taiwan Strait to the highest level in decades, raising fears of a dangerous miscalculation in one of the world’s most charged geopolitical flash points. Beijing has openly voiced its anger over Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory awaiting unification. Her trip came at a time when U.S.-Chinese relations were already strained because of disputes over trade, human rights and other issues.

Pelosi: Why I’m visiting Taiwan

The White House highlighted to Qin a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized democracies, Kirby said, which stressed that China should not use Pelosi’s visit as a pretext for aggressive military action in the Taiwan Strait. The White House also expressed support for a statement from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which called on all sides to de-escalate tensions and engage in dialogue.

“We made clear once again as we have done privately at the highest levels and publicly: Nothing has changed about our one-China policy. We also made clear that the United States is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do,” Kirby said. “We will not seek and do not want a crisis. At the same time, we will not be deterred from operating in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific, consistent with international law, as we have for decades — supporting Taiwan and defending a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In a column published in The Washington Post, Qin noted that Pelosi’s official visit to Taiwan included “full-protocol treatment” by authorities of Taiwan’s governing Democratic Progressive Party, “who make no secret of pursuing independence in their party platform.” He said Pelosi’s visit thus violated a long-standing U.S. commitment not to develop official relations with Taiwan.

“These are extremely irresponsible, provocative and dangerous moves,” Qin wrote, noting that Pelosi is the third-highest-ranking U.S. official after Biden and Vice President Harris.

Qin wrote that Pelosi’s visit was part of a “broader attempt to unilaterally change the status quo on Taiwan and alter the postwar international order,” despite repeated U.S. assurances that it opposes unilateral changes to the status quo.

The White House sought to de-escalate tensions with China ahead of and during Pelosi’s visit, which the speaker undertook against the administration’s wishes. White House officials warned earlier this week that China was preparing for possible aggressive actions that could continue well beyond Pelosi’s visit.

Virtually all the senior members of Biden’s national security team had privately expressed deep reservations about the trip and its timing, the White House official said. They were especially concerned because U.S.-China tensions are already high, and Washington is seeking China’s cooperation on the war in Ukraine and other matters.

Top White House officials defended Pelosi’s right to travel to Taiwan both publicly and to their counterparts in China, but even so, some of them still did not think the trip was a good idea, the official said.

China has sought for years to diplomatically isolate Taiwan. The Chinese Communist Party claims the island, a self-governing democracy that is home to more than 23 million people, as its territory, and Chinese leader Xi Jinping has pledged to “reunify” Taiwan with China, by force if necessary.

Chinese ambassador: Why we opposed Pelosi’s visit

But Pelosi doubled down on Thursday, saying China would not succeed in bullying the island.

“They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan,” Pelosi said in Tokyo, the last stop of her tour. “They are not doing our traveling schedule. The Chinese government is not doing that.”

At a news briefing Thursday, Kirby said the United States is responding to China’s actions.

The United States will conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait over the next few weeks, he said, and will take “further steps” to stand with its allies in the region, including Japan, although he did not specify what those actions would be. The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan and its battle group will remain near Taiwan to monitor the situation, Kirby added.

Lily Kuo contributed to this report.

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