US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that Chinese leaders should think carefully about their actions toward Taiwan, warning of “terrible consequences” if China precipitates a crisis across the Taiwan Strait.
In an interview, Blinken addressed multiple foreign policy challenges facing the administration of US President Joe Biden, including faltering efforts to repair the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and the spiraling conflict in Ethiopia.
Most acute might be China’s increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan.
Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) has said tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years, adding that China would be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
Asked whether China would ever invade Taiwan, Blinken said “that would be a potentially disastrous decision.”
China had been trying to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait in the past few years by engaging in provocative military maneuvers and trying to isolate Taiwan from the rest of world, Blinken said.
“I hope that China’s leaders think very carefully about this and about not precipitating a crisis that would have I think terrible consequences for lots of people and one that’s in no one’s interest, starting with China,” Blinken said.
When it came to whether the US would defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion, Blinken said the US remained “resolutely committed” to Taiwan and to ensuring it had the means to defend itself.
“We’ve been very clear and consistently clear over many years that we are committed to making sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself ... whether that’s in defense articles and services, we will continue to make good on that commitment,” Blinken said.
Blinken also praised Taiwan for its efforts to become a strong democracy, as well as cultivate a strong economy and innovation, adding that Taiwan had made significant contributions to the world.
In other news, the US and the EU on Friday in a joint statement reconfirmed their interest in stability and the “status quo” in the Strait.
The statement, issued after US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino led the first US-EU high-level consultations on the Indo-Pacific in Washington, also said that “both sides noted a shared interest in deepening cooperation with Taiwan consistent with their respective ‘one China’ policies.”
Additional reporting by CNA, with staff writer
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