UNITED NATIONS: China on Thursday warned the United States would pay a “heavy price” if its United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft made good on plans to travel to Taiwan next week.
Democratic and self-ruled Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which views the island as its own territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force if necessary.
Beijing opposes any diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and has pushed to keep it isolated on the world stage.
Outgoing US President Donald Trump has sent multiple senior officials to Taipei over the last year as he clashed with China on a host of issues such as trade, security and human rights.
Craft’s January 13-15 visit will come just a week before the inauguration of US President-elect Joe Biden and creates a fresh diplomatic headache for the incoming administration.
“The United States will pay a heavy price for its wrong action,” a statement from the Chinese mission to the UN said in response to the planned trip next week by Craft.
“China strongly urges the United States to stop its crazy provocation, stop creating new difficulties for China-US relations and the two countries’ cooperation in the United Nations, and stop going further on the wrong path.”
The American UN mission said Thursday evening that Craft would meet with Taiwanese officials and other members of the diplomatic community.
“During her trip, the Ambassador will reinforce the US government’s strong and ongoing support for Taiwan’s international space,” the American statement said.
She is scheduled to speak at the Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs on January 14, “on Taiwan’s impressive contributions to the global community and the importance of Taiwan’s meaningful and expanded participation in international organizations,” according to the statement.
Taiwanese presidential spokesman Xavier Chang welcomed the visit, saying it “symbolizes the firm friendship between Taiwan and the US”.
Washington diplomatically recognizes Beijing over Taipei, but remains a staunch ally of the latter and is bound by Congress to sell weapons to Taiwan to defend itself.
It opposes any move to change Taiwan’s current status by force.
Senior US officials have made visits to Taiwan before but they became more common and prominent under Trump.
Last year three prominent trips were made, including by health secretary Alex Azar, the first by a cabinet official.
During that visit China sent fighter jets across the Median Line — a de facto border that runs down the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing has piled military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Taipei since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s election in 2016, in part due to her refusal to acknowledge its stance that the island is part of “one China”.
Tsai, who won a landslide re-election last year, regards the island as de facto sovereign.
China’s sabre-rattling reached new peaks last year with Taiwan responding to a record 380 incursions into its defense zone.