US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday criticized China’s military maneuvers near Taiwan, urging leaders in Beijing to stop such behavior for fear of a miscalculation.
“The actions we’ve seen by China are provocative and potentially destabilizing,” Blinken said in an interview in Paris with Bloomberg Television. “What I hope is that these actions will cease because there’s always the possibility of miscalculation, of miscommunication, and that’s dangerous.”
China has ratcheted up tension in the past few weeks by sending scores of warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
At the same time, the US and several allies, including Japan and the UK, have been conducting naval drills in nearby waters.
“It’s very important that no one take unilateral actions that change the status quo by force,” Blinken said in the interview on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “We need to see China stop these actions.”
At a news conference later in the day, Blinken said that the US-Taiwan relationship is “rock solid.”
His remarks on China’s actions echoed those by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday, comments that prompted Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying (華春瑩) to criticize the US for its “extremely erroneous and irresponsible” statements toward Taiwan.
Blinken said: “We’ll see” whether US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) are able to meet in person in the coming weeks or months.
The leaders of the world’s two largest economies have yet to meet face-to-face since Biden became president, and the US administration has so far signaled that it would continue with former US president Donald Trump’s aggressive approach toward China, especially on trade.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
Blinken said that the US’ relationship with China is “one of the most consequential relationships in the world,” with adversarial, competitive and cooperative aspects to it.
The challenge of climate change, which Blinken called an “existential” issue, is one area of possible cooperation, he said.
“It’s important for both of us to step up and meet our responsibilities,” Blinken said, including steps such as moving away from coal, a major source of energy for China.
Pressed on the financial woes of Chinese property developer China Evergrande Group (恆大集團), Blinken said that the US is looking to China “to act responsibly and to deal effectively with any challenges.”
“China has to make sovereign economic decisions for itself, but we also know that what China does economically is going to have profound ramifications, profound effects, on literally the entire world, because all of our economies are so intertwined,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a letter to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), US senators Robert Menendez and James Inhofe, cochairs of the Senate Taiwan Caucus, expressed support for Taiwan in the face of the challenges posed by Beijing.
The letter, sent ahead of Double Ten National Day, said that Tsai could “count on our continued support in ensuring Taiwan remains one of our most important partners in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The letter went on to underline the importance of defending the nation’s democratic values and free-market principles.
Additional reporting by CNA
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