China will face “terrible consequences” for any move to invade Taiwan, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, adding that Washington is “resolutely committed” to ensuring that the self-governed island can defend itself.
Driving the news: Blinken’s remarks come amid increasing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Since early October, Beijing has sent hundreds of warplanes to Taipei’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), leading to fears of an escalation that would trigger a longstanding defense commitment the U.S. has made to Taiwan.
- That commitment, signed into law as the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, requires the U.S. to “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.”
- Speaking at the Reuters Next conference on Friday, Blinken reiterated Washington’s commitment with a warning to Beijing. “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,” he said.
- Blinken added that the U.S. has been “very clear and consistently clear” in its commitment to Taiwan. In October, President Joe Biden told CNN that the U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of an invasion, but the White House later clarified that its policy of “strategic ambiguity” has not changed, according to The Guardian.
- Under the policy, the U.S. deters both Beijing and Taipei from unilaterally upsetting cross-strait peace and stability. But it would do so without giving a clear answer to how it would react if the island is invaded, according to The National Interest.
China’s response: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian slammed Blinken’s remarks on Monday. Zhao said they were a blatant challenge to the “One-China” principle, which asserts that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it.
- Zhao reiterated that Taiwan is an internal affairs issue of China, according to CGTN. The spokesperson also stressed that Blinken’s remarks violate the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiqués.
- The communiqués, which were signed in 1972, 1978 and 1982, emerged from bilateral negotiations between Washington and Beijing, according to Global Times, until the U.S. communicated with Taiwan in secret, leading to the establishment of the “Six Assurances,” contradicting the previously agreed upon language.
- The assurances inform Taipei of what the U.S. had not agreed to, including (1) setting a date for ending arms sales, (2) consulting Beijing on arms sales, (3) playing a mediation role, (4) revising the Taiwan Relations Act, (5) altering position on island sovereignty, and (6) exerting pressure on Taipei to negotiate with Beijing.
- Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, criticized the U.S.’ stubborn adherence to its wrong position on Taiwan and its continued play of the “Taiwan card.” He also warned that efforts toward Taiwanese independence by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and other secessionist forces are doomed to fail.
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