China said, Friday, it was ending cooperation with the United States on key issues including climate change – a move Washington decried as “fundamentally irresponsible” as relations between the two superpowers nosedived over Taiwan.
The damaging rift, which carries significant geostrategic risk, was triggered by Chinese fury over a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory and has vowed to retake by force if necessary.
It has since Thursday encircled the self-ruled, democratic island with a series of huge military drills that have been roundly condemned by the United States and other western allies.
And Friday saw China’s foreign ministry hit back further against the United States, suspending talks and cooperation on multiple agreements – including on climate change.
The world’s two largest polluters last year pledged to work together to accelerate climate action this decade, and vowed to meet regularly to tackle the crisis.
But that deal now looks shaky in light of China’s latest move.
“We believe that this is fundamentally irresponsible,” the National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington.
“They think they’re punishing us, they’re actually punishing the whole world, “Kirby said, adding that the only way to defuse tensions was for China to halt its “provocative” military exercises.
The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, warned the two superpowers must continue to work together for the world’s sake.
“For the secretary-general, there is no way to solve the most pressing problems of all the world without an effective dialogue and cooperation between the two countries,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang said the “evil neighbour next door” had taken everyone by surprise with its willingness to “arbitrarily jeopardise the busiest waterways in the world” with its military exercises.