China has been “busy” changing the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait through moves including imposing military threats against Taiwan, poaching the nation’s diplomatic allies and raising pressure to cut its international space, a US Department of State official said on Friday.
The primary desire of the US is to see a strong commitment to maintaining the “status quo,” US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Patrick Murphy said in an interview with Voice of America.
“China has been busy changing the ‘status quo’ on this arrangement that has produced prosperity, stability and peace, even with some of the unusual aspects,” Murphy said in Hawaii, en route to Thailand and Indonesia.
“What I mean by changing the ‘status quo’ is we have heard voices in Beijing threaten the use of violence directed at Taiwan; we have seen China aggressively try to reduce the number of diplomatic partners that Taiwan enjoys around the world,” he said.
To intimidate Taiwan, China has stepped up military threats through various aggressive and provocative actions, such as the dispatching of warships, bombers and fighter jets to encircle Taiwan and conducting live-fire military exercises near Taiwan’s waters.
In a January speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said that China makes no promise to give up the use of force and reserves the option of taking all necessary means against pro-Taiwanese independence “separatists.”
Under the administration of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), Beijing largely refrained from poaching Taiwan’s allies or carrying out military maneuvers near its waters.
Since taking office in May 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party has refused to accept the so-called “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000 that refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
As a result of the Tsai administration’s refusal to accept the “1992 consensus,” Beijing has stepped up pressure on Taiwan.
Under Tsai, Taiwan has lost five diplomatic allies — Sao Tome and Principe; Panama; the Dominican Republic; Burkina Faso; and El Salvador — which are believed to have been lured away by financial incentives from China.
China’s pressure to shrink Taiwan’s international space has left the nation with only 17 diplomatic allies.
“China has been busy trying to crop Taiwan out of the international space and international organizations where Taiwan has made important contributions to public health, civil aviation and many more global concerns that affect all around the world,” Murphy said.
Earlier commitment to maintaining the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait “brought peace, stability and prosperity for all concerned,” he said.
The US continues to recognize the “one China” policy, which has been firmly based on important historical documents such as the Three Joint Communiques negotiated with China in 1972, 1978 and 1982, and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), he added.
The TRA was enacted in 1979 after Washington severed ties with Taipei, with the aim of defining future unofficial relations between Taiwan and the US.
“This framework has served us, Taiwan and China well for the past 40 years now,” Murphy said.
Commenting on Washington’s arms sales to Taipei, Murphy said that under the framework, there is precedent.
“And it’s a matter of policy in the United States that Taiwan’s defensive needs are merited, so the United States has been a helpful partner in that regard,” he said.
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