China on Friday announced that it was cancelling several defence meetings and suspending climate talks with the United States in retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan this week.

Beijing will suspend the China-US climate change dialogue and cancel Theater Commanders Talk, Defense Policy Coordination Talks and Military Maritime Consultative Agreement meetings, the foreign ministry said in a statement, citing Pelosi’s “disregard of China’s strong opposition and serious representations” on the Taiwan visit.

China and the US are the world’s top two greenhouse gas-emitting countries. At the United Nations COP26 conference in Glasgow in November, they had announced an agreement to ramp up cooperation in tackling climate change.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Friday said cooperation on returning illegal immigrants, legal assistance on criminal matters, transnational crimes, illegal drugs have also been suspended with the US.

The development came hours after China imposed sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family in response to what the foreign ministry in another statement described as an “egregious provocation”.

“This constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs,” the statement added. “It gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

Pelosi was the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in 25 years on Tuesday despite a slew of threats from Beijing, which considers the island to be a breakaway province of China.

China sees official visits by US authorities as lending support to pro-independence camps and giving credence to the idea of Taiwan as a sovereign nation.

China has been taking retaliatory measures ever since Pelosi arrived in Taiwan. On Tuesday, China announced that the People’s Liberation Army would hold live-fire military drills – exercises using live ammunition – at several points around the island country.

On Wednesday, 27 Chinese fighter jets flew into Taiwan’s air defence zone. Pelosi left Taiwan on the same day after her one-day visit. A day later, China fired 11 ballistic missiles in the sea surrounding Taiwan during its largest-ever military drills.

Pelosi had said that her visit to Asian countries, including Taiwan, were not about changing the status quo in the region. It was more about the Taiwan Relations Act and the US-China policy, she had claimed.

The Taiwan Relations Act obliges Washington to ensure that the island has sufficient defence capability.

Other China sanctions

In August 2020, China imposed sanctions on 11 American citizens, including Senators, in retaliation for similar orders passed by Donald Trump, who was the United States president at the time, against officials in Hong Kong over their alleged roles in curtailing political freedom in the region.

The US citizens sanctioned by China included Representative Chris Smith, Senators Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Pat Toomey and members of rights groups and non-profit organisations.

In January 2021, China imposed sanctions on 28 members and officials who were part of Trump’s administration, including his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Besides Pompeo, those sanctioned include Trump’s Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell, Health Secretary Alex Azar and United Nations envoy Kelly Craft. US Ambassador to the UN John R Bolton and Trump’s former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon were also sanctioned.

Beijing called the American diplomats, “anti-China politicians”, and said that they executed “crazy moves” out of their selfish political interests and prejudice and hatred against the country.