China vows to punish the United States if Kelly Craft, its United Nations Ambassador, pushes ahead with her announced plan to visit Taiwan next week.

In the strongest possible terms, China on Thursday threatened the U.S. to pay a "heavy price" if Craft visits Taiwan from Jan 13 to 15 as earlier announced by the U.S. Department of State. Craft will be the highest-ranking U.S. diplomat to visit Taiwan since the U.S. severed diplomatic relations with the island nation in 1979.

Craft will visit Taiwan for meetings with senior Taiwanese diplomats, said the U.S. mission to the UN on Thursday.

"During her trip, the Ambassador will reinforce the U.S. government's strong and ongoing support for Taiwan's international space, in accord with the U.S. One-China policy that is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three US-PRC joint communiqués, and the Six Assurances to Taiwan," said the mission in a statement.

On the other hand, China claims a U.S. ambassador's presence in Taiwan violates its sovereignty. For decades, China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan and has always vowed reunification with its "renegade province," by force if need be.

China said it "firmly opposes" Craft's Taiwan's visit and demands the U.S. cancel her trip. China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said China's "One-China Policy" means Taiwan is only a mainland province and does not merit a visit by an ambassador.

"The United States will pay a heavy price for its wrong action," according to a statement from the Chinese mission to the UN.

"China strongly urges the United States to stop its crazy provocation, stop creating new difficulties for China-US relations and the two countries' cooperation in the United Nations, and stop going further on the wrong path."

President Donald Trump's outgoing administration has worked to forge closer diplomatic, business, and military ties with Taiwan as part of its anti-China strategy. In August 2020, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan. The Trump administration also boosted the pace of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which Western military experts said is unprecedented.

The Trump administration has made 11 arms sales to Taiwan since Trump took office in January 2017, the most by any U.S. administration. There were six military sales to Taiwan alone in 2020, said Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In August 2020, the Trump administration approved the sale of 66 Lockheed Martin F-16V Fighting Falcon air superiority jet fighters to Taiwan. In December, the Trump administration announced a $280 million deal involving the sale of a U.S. Army Field Information Communications System (FICS) and related equipment to Taiwan.