House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's trip did not constitute a violation of Chinese sovereignty, claims Washington but Beijing warns America will "pay the price for its own mistakes."
The United States has defended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit to Taiwan, saying she was within her rights to visit the island state even as enraged China repeated its warning that Pelosi's visit will have consequences.
The Biden administration wants to keep tensions between Washington and Beijing worsened by a high-level visit to Taiwan from boiling over into a conflict, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said late on Tuesday.
He said Pelosi was within her rights to visit Taiwan but also stressed that the trip did not constitute a violation of Chinese sovereignty or America's longstanding "one-China" policy.
"What we don't want to see is this spiral into any kind of a crisis or conflict," Kirby told reporters in a briefing. "There's just no reason to amp this up," he added.
Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on a trip she said shows an unwavering American commitment to the island state, but China condemned the highest-level US visit in 25 years as a threat to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
US envoy summoned
Beijing said that Pelosi's trip was "extremely dangerous" and warned the "consequences are extremely serious."
It also summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to slam Pelosi's "egregious" trip to Taiwan. China said, "it will not sit idly by."
Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said the United States "shall pay the price for its own mistakes" and urged Washington to "immediately address its wrongdoings, take practical measures to undo the adverse effects caused by Pelosi's visit to Taiwan."
Chinese warplanes meanwhile buzzed the line dividing the Taiwan Strait before her arrival, and the Chinese military announced joint air and sea drills near Taiwan starting on Tuesday night and test launches of conventional missiles in the sea east of Taiwan, with the Chinese state news agency Xinhua describing live-fire drills and other exercises around Taiwan from Thursday to Sunday.
Kirby said that the United States will continue to operate in the seas and skies of the Western Pacific. Beyond the military moves, Kirby said China could use "economic coercion" against Taiwan without going into detail.
North Korea 'denounces' visit
Meanwhile, North Korea's Foreign Ministry criticised what it called US "imprudent interference" in China's internal affairs, the official KCNA said.
The ministry spokesperson said they "vehemently denounce" any external force's interference in the issue of Taiwan and "fully support" China, its major ally and economic lifeline.
"It is the due right of a sovereign state to take countermeasures against the moves of the outside forces openly interfering in its internal affairs and destroying its territorial integrity," the unidentified official was quoted by KCNA as saying.
British lawmakers warned against Taiwan visit
In the UK, China's ambassador Zheng Zeguang vowed "severe consequences" if British lawmakers visit Taiwan, The Guardian reported.
Visits would interfere in China's internal affairs and would lead to severe consequences in China-UK relations, Zheng said at a news conference in London, the report said.
"We call on the UK side to abide by the Sino-UK joint communique and not to underestimate the extreme sensitivity of the Taiwan issue, and not to follow the US' footsteps," The Guardian quoted Zheng as saying.
Beijing considers Taiwan a "breakaway province," but the latter has maintained its self-rule since 1949 and enjoys diplomatic ties with at least 14 countries.
Interactions between Washington and Taipei have grown significantly since the tenure of former US president Donald Trump, with former and sitting lawmakers making trips to the island home to more than 25 million people.
The US formally recognised China in 1979 and shifted diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing, and accepted Taiwan as part of the mainland under Washington's One China policy.