China said Friday it was ending cooperation with the United States on a litany of key issues, including climate change, anti-drug efforts and military talks, as relations between the two superpowers plummet over Taiwan.
Beijing has reacted furiously to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which claims it as its territory and has vowed to retake it — by force if necessary.
It has surrounded the self-ruled, democratic island since Thursday with a series of massive military exercises that have been roundly condemned by the United States and other Western allies.
And Friday saw the State Department strike back further against the United States, suspending talks and cooperation on multiple agreements between the two, including on climate change.
The world’s two biggest polluters pledged to work together last year to accelerate climate action this decade, and pledged to meet regularly to “address the climate crisis.”
But that deal now looks shaky in light of China’s latest move.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm, warning that the two superpowers must continue to work together – for the sake of the world.
“For the Secretary General, there is no way to solve the world’s most pressing problems without effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries,” Guterres spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
In Washington, the White House has called on the Chinese ambassador to condemn Beijing’s “irresponsible” behavior towards Taiwan, a senior US official said Friday.
Taiwan has also condemned Beijing’s response to the visit, with Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang calling on his allies to push for de-escalation.
“(We) did not expect the angry neighbor to show off his power at our door and arbitrarily endanger the busiest waterways in the world with his military exercises,” he told reporters.
Pelosi — who has also sanctioned Beijing — defended her trip to Taiwan, saying on Friday that Washington “would not allow” China to isolate the island.
– ‘Our motherland is powerful’ –
Beijing has said military exercises will continue until Sunday afternoon, and Taipei reported that 68 Chinese planes and 13 warships crossed the “median line” running through the Taiwan Strait on Friday.
AFP journalists on the Chinese island of Pingtan saw a fighter jet fly over, forcing tourists to take photos.
A Chinese military ship passing through the Taiwan Strait was also visible, she added.
China’s exercises include a “conventional missile firepower attack” in waters east of Taiwan, the Chinese military said.
And state broadcaster CCTV reported that Chinese missiles flew directly over Taiwan – a major escalation if confirmed.
On Pingtan, local tourists proudly praised Beijing’s military might against its much smaller neighbor.
“Our motherland is powerful. We are not afraid to go to war with Taiwan, the US or any other country in the world,” Liu, a 40-year-old tourist from Zhejiang Province, told AFP.
“We hope to unite Taiwan soon,” he added. “We don’t want to start a war, but we are not afraid of others.”
Wang, a businesswoman, was more optimistic about the prospects for ties between the straits.
“I hope China can unite Taiwan, but I don’t want war,” she said. “I hope this problem can be resolved peacefully.”
– ‘Significant escalation’ –
The scale and intensity of China’s exercises have sparked outrage in the United States and other democracies.
“These provocative actions are a significant escalation,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after talks with Southeast Asian foreign ministers at an ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh.
“The fact is that the speaker’s visit was peaceful. There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response,” he added.
China’s foreign minister responded by warning Washington not to escalate tensions.
“It is America’s habit to create a problem and then use this problem to achieve its goals. But this approach will not work with China,” Wang Yi told a news conference on the sidelines of the summit.
“We want to warn the US not to act hastily and not create a bigger crisis.”
Japan has filed a formal diplomatic complaint against Beijing, alleging five of China’s missiles landed in the exclusive economic zone.
Japan’s foreign ministry said on Friday that China has canceled a planned bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit.
And Australia, which has a strained relationship with China, its largest trading partner, condemned the exercises as “disproportionate and destabilizing”.
The maneuvers will take place along some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, which are used to distribute the global supply of vital semiconductors and electronic equipment manufactured in East Asia.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)