The US sharply rebuked China on Friday for choosing to suspend bilateral dialogue on military issues and climate change, calling them "fundamentally irresponsible" decisions.
Speaking specifically about Beijing's suspension of cooperation in efforts to combat climate change, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said China "is not just punishing the United States for these actions. They're actually punishing the whole world."
"As irresponsible as we find it, as unfortunate as it is to the international community, especially with respect to climate, it is a piece of their playbook," he said, adding that the decision to cut off military-to-military communications increases the likelihood of a confrontation.
"These lines of communications are actually really important for helping to reduce the risk of miscalculation and misperception," said Kirby. "It's good, especially now, to have those lines of communication open. That is especially true in the last few days as China takes provocative and escalatory measures."
Earlier this week Beijing launched massive military exercises surrounding Taiwan after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the self-ruled island, bucking Chinese warnings. Beijing views Taiwan as its “breakaway province" despite Taipei having governed itself since 1949. It has vowed to reunify the island, including by force if necessary.
As part of its major military exercises near Taiwan, China on Friday dispatched the largest number of military aircraft across the Taiwan Strait this year, according to the Defense Ministry of the self-ruled island.
The ministry said around 68 Chinese jets have so far crossed what is known as the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
“This dangerous escalation of the military threat is wrecking peace and stability in the region and must be condemned,” said Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joshua Wu.
It is the highest number of Chinese jets this year crossing the air defense identification zone – which Taiwan identifies as its airspace. China does not recognize the zone.