WASHINGTON — The United States is worried about China and Russia’s “burgeoning relationship” after Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan earlier this month, the State Department admitted Wednesday.
China and Russia top the Pentagon’s list of adversaries in its 2022 National Defense Strategy, which lays out America’s key military concerns and priorities. As tensions run high over China’s claims to the South China Sea and Beijing’s threat to Taiwan, the US has simultaneously sent Ukraine nearly $10 billion in weapons and military equipment to fight off the Russian invasion that began Feb. 24.
State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Wednesday that Washington is troubled by the “burgeoning relationship in the security realm” between Moscow and Beijing.
“That is of concern because of the vision that the countries … [have] for the international order is … starkly at odds with the underpinnings of the international system that have been in place for eight decades following the end of the Second World War,” he said.
A day earlier, Putin accused the US of a “deliberate attempt to fuel the flames and stir up trouble in the Asia-Pacific” by allowing Pelosi to visit the island nation Aug. 2.
“The US escapade toward Taiwan is not just a voyage by an irresponsible politician, but part of the purpose-oriented and deliberate US strategy designed to destabilize the situation and sow chaos in the region and the world,” the Russian leader said in remarks at an international security conference in Moscow. “It is a brazen demonstration of disrespect for other countries and their own international commitments.”
Putin claimed Pelosi’s actions were an attempt to distract the American public “from pressing socioeconomic problems such as plummeting living standards, unemployment, poverty and deindustrialization.”
“They want to shift the blame for their own failures to other countries, namely Russia and China, which are defending their point of view and designing a sovereign development policy without submitting to the diktat of the supranational elites,” he said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin on Wednesday said his country “highly appreciates” Putin’s remarks, saying they demonstrate “the high-level strategic coordination between China and Russia and the firm support the two countries have rendered each other on issues concerning their core interests.”
While the White House privately advised Pelosi not to make the Taiwan trip, National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell on Friday said China “overreacted” to the speaker’s visit by conducting military drills near Taiwan, launching missiles into the waters around the island and surrounding it with more than a dozen warships.
“[China] used the visit of a US Speaker of the House, a visit that is consistent with our One China policy and is not unprecedented, as a pretext to launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan and to try to change the status quo, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region,” he said. “Its actions continue to be provocative, destabilizing, and unprecedented.”
On Wednesday, Price said the State Department believes China’s recent actions have “undermined the status quo” and threatened the “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.” The spokesperson added that the department believes “these tactics will continue in the days and weeks ahead.”
“What we’re seeing now appears to be just the beginning stages of an intensification of those efforts,” Price said. “We’ve already seen an uptick in military intimidation tactics to an unprecedented level and an increase in coercive economic tactics.”