China on Tuesday warned the United States that it will pay a 'heavy price' for its attempts to show support to Taiwan's independence as a delegation of ex-American defence officials dispatched by President Joe Biden landed in Taipei amid apprehensions that Beijing may attempt action against the self-ruled island akin to Russia's military assault in Ukraine.
Taiwanese media reports said a five-member delegation headed by former US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Admiral (retd) Mullen was received by Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, raising concerns in Beijing over the US efforts to step up its engagement with Taiwan, which China firmly affirms as part of the Chinese mainland.
China in recent months ratcheted up military preparations sending hundreds of its air force jets into Taiwan's Air Defence Zone besides beefing up its naval force keeping the self-governing breakaway island on tenterhooks.
Officials in Taiwan and the US say that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has drawn fresh attention to China's threat to forcibly annex the self-governing island.
Besides Mullen's visit, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to arrive in Taiwan on Wednesday.
Both Mullen and Pompeo, known for their anti-China rhetoric during their stint under former US president Donald Trump, are due to meet Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who Beijing blames as the ring-leader of advocating Taiwan's independence.
Much on the expected lines, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had some sharp words to criticise the visit of US officials.
"The Chinese people are firmly determined to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing here when asked about the American officials visit.
"The attempt by the US to show support to Taiwan will be in vain no matter who it sent. China urges the US to abide by the one-China principle," he said.
He denounced the US guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson last Saturday sailing through the contested waters of Taiwan Straits, saying the US moves to back Taiwanese independence forces will 'accelerate' their fall.
"I wonder what is the US intention behind this high part of this passage of USS Johnson. If it intends to embolden Taiwan's independent separatist forces, then it will only accelerate the fall of Taiwan independence forces and the US will pay a heavy price for his adventurous acts," Wang said.
"If the US intends to intimidate China by this, then, in front of the 1.4 billion Chinese people united in their steely determination, the so-called military deterrence will be nothing but scrap metal," he said.
"Such US tricks involving sailing across the Taiwan Strait will better leave the show to those obsessed with hegemony," Wang said.