US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the United States is concerned by China’s “increasingly aggressive actions” directed at Taiwan and remains committed to ensuring peace and stability in the western Pacific region.
Blinken said on Sunday that the Biden administration is committed to ensuring that Taiwan “has the ability to defend itself”.
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“What we’ve seen, and what is of real concern to us, is increasingly aggressive actions by the government in Beijing directed at Taiwan,” Blinken said during an interview on NBC programme Meet the Press.
“It would be a serious mistake for anyone to try to change the existing status quo by force.”
He declined to comment when asked if the US would consider military action against China.
Blinken’s comments come days after the US warned China against what Taiwan, which Beijing views as part of China, and the Philippines had described as increasingly aggressive Chinese naval and aerial exercises.
Manila has criticised Beijing for sending what it called “maritime militia” vessels to a wide area within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, while Taiwan said Chinese planes had crossed into the island’s air defence area.
On Monday, the Chinese carrier, Liaoning, also led a naval exercise near Taiwan, and Beijing said that such drills will become regular occurrences.
Beijing has blamed the increased tensions on Washington after it said it had tracked the USS John McCain destroyer through the Taiwan Strait last week.
US President Joe Biden has continued to take a hard line against Beijing on several issues, including the Chinese government’s treatment of its Muslim Uighur minority in the western region of Xinjiang, which the Biden administration has described as a “genocide“.
US and Chinese officials traded rebukes last month during the first high-ranking meeting between the two governments since Biden took office in January.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the US State Department announced it would lift rules to make it easier for US government officials to meet with Taiwanese representatives.
The updated guidance came in response to an act of Congress that required a review.
“These new guidelines liberalize guidance on contacts with Taiwan, consistent with our unofficial relations,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Price also said the guidelines would “provide clarity throughout the Executive Branch on effective implementation of our ‘one China’ policy” – a reference to the longstanding US policy under which Washington officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei.