As US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday disregarding Beijing's threats and warnings, a livid China lodged a diplomatic protest with the US saying that her visit is a "serious violation of the one-China principle" and accused Washington of playing the "Taiwan card" to contain Beijing.
Pelosi landed in Taipei on Tuesday night, becoming the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan in 25 years.
"The Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China, and no other country is entitled to act as a judge on the Taiwan question," the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement minutes after Pelosi landed in Taipei.
China claims Taiwan as part of the mainland and vows to integrate what it calls the rebel province even by force.
"China strongly urges the United States to stop playing the 'Taiwan card' and using Taiwan to contain China. It should stop meddling in Taiwan and interfering in China's internal affairs," the ministry said.
Pelosi's visit is seen as a major challenge to China and regarded as a setback for Chinese President Xi Jinping who is seeking an unprecedented third five-year term in power.
The once-in-a-five-year Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China, which is due to meet in the next few months, is widely expected to endorse a rare third term for Xi, 68, who will be completing 10 years in power this year.
All his predecessors have retired after two years.
Xi has highlighted integration of Taiwan with the mainland as his main goal while in power.
Besides the foreign ministry, the Chinese legislature -- the National People's Congress -- issued lengthy statements condemning Pelosi's visit.
Her visit has a "severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations, and seriously infringes upon China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for 'Taiwan independence'," the statement said.
"China firmly opposes and sternly condemns this, and has made serious demarche and strong protest to the United States," it said.
"There is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China's territory, and the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China," it said.
This has been clearly recognised by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution and 181 countries have established diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the one-China principle, it said.
"The one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations," it said.
Dismissing US Secretary Antony Blinken's assertion that US Congress functioned independently from the government, the statement said the US "Congress, as a part of the US government, is inherently obliged to strictly observe the one-China policy of the US government and refrain from having any official exchanges with China's Taiwan region".
"China is all along opposed to the visit to Taiwan by US congressional members, and the US executive branch has the responsibility to stop such visits," it said.
"Since Speaker Pelosi is the incumbent leader of the US Congress, her visit to and activities in Taiwan, in whatever form and for whatever reason, is a major political provocation to upgrade US official exchanges with Taiwan. China absolutely does not accept this, and the Chinese people absolutely reject this," it said.
The Taiwan question is the most important and most sensitive issue at the very heart of China-US relations. The Taiwan Strait is facing a new round of tensions and severe challenges, and the fundamental cause is the repeated moves by the Taiwan authorities and the United States to change the status quo, it said.
"The US, for its part, has been attempting to use Taiwan to contain China. It constantly distorts, obscures and hollows out the one-China principle, steps up its official exchanges with Taiwan, and emboldens 'Taiwan independence' separatist activities. These moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it," the statement said.
China will definitely take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in response to the US speaker's visit. All the consequences arising therefrom must be borne by the US side and the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces, it said.
Stating that China and the US are two major countries, it said "the right way for them to deal with each other lies only in mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, no-confrontation and win-win cooperation".
The US must take credible actions to strictly observe the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-US joint communiques, and not go further down the wrong and dangerous path, it said.