Hong Kong/Tokyo: The U.S. State Department urged China to engage in dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives and cease putting military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island.
The U.S. statement on Saturday move came as Taiwan said a fleet of 13 Chinese military planes, including eight H-6K bombers, entered its air defense identification zone, in an apparent stepping up of Beijing’s almost constant military incursions around the Taiwan Strait.
“We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan,” the Department of State said in the statement.
The wording appears to indicate some continuity with former U.S. President Donald Trump’s willingness to engage with Taiwan, at the risk of provoking the Chinese government, which sees the island as part of its territory. Trump’s government sold arms to Taiwan and his Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar traveled to Taipei in August, becoming the highest-level U.S. visitor in decades.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” the State Department said, adding that the commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid” and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability in Asia.
At the same time, the U.S. pledged to stand by communiques agreed with China, and its use of the phrase “people on Taiwan” could indicate that the Biden administration is keen to avoid any direct confrontation with China by elevating the status of Taiwan.
U.S. allies around the world have been eagerly awaiting indications of Joe Biden’s approach to China. Concerns about how to handle ties with Asia’s largest economy came second only to the coronavirus in a list of problems Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed with his U.K. counterpart Ben Wallace in a call Saturday, according to an email from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Austen also agreed with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi in a call early on Sunday to oppose any attempts to change the status quo in the East or South China Seas with force in the background, according to a Japanese Defense Ministry statement.
China is using its growing military muscle to aggressively assert its territorial claims in neighboring seas, and its military aircraft frequently enter Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, while Japanese and Chinese government ships frequently chase one another around disputed islands. –Bloomberg