China has warned the United States it is performing a “highly dangerous trick” over Taiwan and “those playing with fire will get burned”.
Beijing’s ambassador to London – one of his country’s most senior diplomats – made the comments in a press conference, hastily convened, to respond to the arrival of top US politician Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan in defiance of Chinese demands to stay away.
Zheng Zeguang said the visit by the US house speaker “seriously violated” a long-standing “One China” principle that means democratically-governed Taiwan must not be treated by the United States as an independent authority.
The ambassador said Ms Pelosi’s actions “seriously infringed upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and seriously undermined peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.
“We firmly oppose such an irresponsible, highly provocative and dangerous act,” the Chinese diplomat said, speaking in English.
“There is but one China in the world and Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory.”
He said Ms Pelosi had raised tensions in the region and warned that the United States would bear the consequences along with forces inside Taiwan pushing for the island’s independence.
“This is a highly dangerous trick such as playing with fire and those playing with fire will get burned,” Mr Zheng said.
He also had a warning for the UK not to “dance to the tune” of the United States.
Mr Zheng issued a further warning to the US in a Twitter thread he shared after the conference.
He wrote: “The one-China Principle is the premise & foundation for diplomatic relations btw China & US. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan at any time during her tenure is absolutely unacceptable to China.
“The Chinese side will take resolute necessary measures to safeguard sovereignty & territorial integrity-the unbending will of over 1.4 billion Chinese people. All consequences arising there from must be borne by US side and ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces.”
The ambassador would not be drawn on commenting directly on remarks by the two politicians vying to become Britain’s next prime minister even though both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have chosen to take a hard line on China, calling the country a threat.
“We will work with whoever becomes the new prime minister for the development of a China-UK relationship based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.”