China must respond to 'unprovoked challenge to its sovereignty': Chinese ambassador to S'pore on Pelosi's Taiwan visit

She accused Pelosi and Taiwan of disturbing regional peace.

Kayla Wong | August 16, 2022, 09:59 AM

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China's ambassador to Singapore, Sun Haiyan, who arrived in May, has hit back at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan.

Addressing the Singaporean people in a three-minute long video posted on the Chinese embassy's Facebook page, Sun said they might be worried about the situation triggered by Pelosi's visit to "China's Taiwan region".

"I'm sure you understand that the visit not only violates the U.S. own official one China principle, infringes on China's sovereignty, but also threatens the whole region's stability," she said.

According to the U.S.' "one China policy", which is different from China's "one China principle", the U.S. position is that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should mutually agree to a peaceful resolution of the issue.

It's important to note that Washington has never acknowledged Beijing's claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it agree that the Republic of China is an independent state.

Sun further said "some U.S. politicians and Taiwan separatists" are the troublemakers, and that their actions are driven by "selfish calculations" to bolster their own political standing.

"Of course, we cannot allow this unprovoked challenge to our sovereignty pass without appropriate responses."

As Pelosi is from the same Democratic party as U.S. President Joe Biden, Pelosi's visit might have been seen by China as coordination at the highest level, making the visit a deliberate escalation.

However, as a White House official had emphasised before the trip, the legislative branch that Pelosi leads is "a separate and coequal branch of government" -- with the executive and judicial branches being the other two parts that make up the U.S. government -- which essentially means Biden had no control over her travel plans.

China reacts with anger to another U.S. delegation's visit to Taiwan

Following a visit to Taiwan by more U.S. lawmakers on Aug. 14 -- less than two weeks after Pelosi's controversial trip -- China responded by holding a fresh round of patrols around the island, Reuters reported.

These measures are on a markedly smaller scale than the six live-fire drills that China conducted in the waters around Taiwan. These drills, held in the north, southwest and east of the island, were unprecedented, with Taiwan saying they amount to a "blockade", a term which Chinese state media used as well.

Besides military drills, as part of its series of pressure tactics to force Taiwan into submission, China has also halted imports of Taiwanese food products, and banned exports of natural sand to Taiwan -- the material is used for chip making in the island, making it a potentially harmful move to Taiwan's advanced semiconductor industry.

China has also reportedly ramped up its cyberattacks and misinformation campaigns on Taiwan.

Both China and Taiwan accuse each other disturbing regional peace

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) said the drills were "a stern deterrent" to the U.S. and Taiwan, who continue to "play political tricks and undermine peace and stability across Taiwan Strait".

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, on the other hand, said the drills had greatly affected regional peace and stability.

The Chinese government views Taiwan as "an inalienable part" of its territory, despite never ruling it before, and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the self-ruled island under its control.

Taiwan has never explicitly claimed independence so as to avoid crossing Beijing's "red line". However, Tsai has said previously that Taiwan is "already independent", therefore there is no need to formally declare themselves an independent state.

What has the trip achieved?

Being the highest ranking U.S. official to visit the island in 25 years, the trip taken by Pelosi, who's also second in line to the presidency, is significant.

Amid confusion as to why Pelosi has chosen this sensitive time to visit Taiwan when Chinese President Xi Jinping is about to approach a third term as China's leader -- with China being expected to retaliate with a strong response -- analysts have opined that the trip was taken to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

A member of the U.S. delegation that visited Taiwan with Pelosi, Mark Takano, told The Asahi Shimbun the trip was taken to "emphasise the continuance of the status quo", which he said was being threatened by China as it tries to "establish new levels of normalcy".

China has stepped up its pressure on Taiwan in recent years by sending large sorties in Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ).

In 2021, Taiwan recorded 969 incursions by Chinese aircraft into its ADIZ -- more than double the figure in 2020. From Oct. 1 to Oct. 4, 2021, a total of 149 sorties were made, with 56 ADIZ incursions being reported on Oct. 4 alone.

Incursions of Taiwan's ADIZ by Chinese warplanes has become so frequent that Taiwan has stopped scrambling jets to every incursion as it has become costly to do so. Instead, they track the intruders with ground based missiles, according to Reuters.

Such an incrementalist strategy that's referred to as "salami-slicing", which includes frequent naval drills, is said to gradually chip away at Taiwan's defences, making it easier for the island to fall under Beijing's control, as it becomes more isolated from the global community.

Defending her trip, Pelosi has said previously that China was "trying to establish a new normal", and the U.S. "just can't let that happen", Bloomberg reported.

Takano further said any criticism about the trip should be directed at Beijing, and not Pelosi or the U.S. delegation.

He noted the last visit by U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, in 1997 as well, saying the status quo of the U.S. relations with Taiwan includes congressional visits.

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Top image via PRC Embassy in Singapore/Facebook & Tsai Ing-Wen/Facebook