China is halting cooperation with the US in several key areas, including climate change, military talks and efforts to combat international crime.
The new measures come after a visit to Taiwan by a US congressional delegation led by senior Democrat Nancy Pelosi. China, which also announced it was banning Pelosi and her family, sees the visit as a challenge to its claims to sovereignty over Taiwan.
The self-governing island sees itself as separate from the mainland.
China’s foreign ministry announced the measures on Friday. It said talks between the US and Chinese defence officials would be suspended, while cooperation on investigating illegal immigrants, climate change and transnational crime would be arrested.
In recent years, the two major powers have maintained cordial diplomatic relations over the need to tackle climate change. At last year’s climate summit in Glasgow, China vowed to work “immediately” with the US to cut emissions.
Countries have also found rare common causes in their efforts to fight the trade in illegal drugs like fentanyl.
The decision to halt co-operation was taken because Ms Pelosi visited Taiwan “in disregard of China’s strong opposition and serious representations,” the Chinese ministry said in a statement.
It also accused the US delegation and Ms Pelosi – the highest-ranking US politician to travel to the island in 25 years – of “egregious provocations”.
In a message posted on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying criticised US foreign policy by comparing it to the police killing of George Floyd, the unarmed black American whose death in 2020 sparked global anti-racism protests.
“We cannot allow the US to take itself as ‘world policeman’ and treat other countries as George Floyd whom it can bully and strangle at will,” she wrote.
At a news conference later on Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Ms Pelosi “had every right” to go to Taiwan and said China’s new measures were “fundamentally irresponsible”.
“We’ll continue our efforts to keep open lines of communications with Beijing while defending our interests and values,” she said.
The White House summoned China’s ambassador to Washington, condemning China’s escalation as “irresponsible”.
In a statement, National Security Council strategic communications co-ordinator John Kirby said the White House had made it clear that the US “is prepared for what Beijing chooses to do. We will not seek and do not want a crisis.”