Antony Blinken urges China to halt ‘provocative’ actions toward Taiwan

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called China’s recent actions around Taiwan “provocative”, warned of the risks of “miscalculation” and vowed to deepen ties with the self-governed island that Beijing considers a wayward province.

The remarks by Washington’s top diplomat on Wednesday came just hours after US President Joe Biden appeared to try to de-escalate tensions in the Taiwan Strait – where Chinese fighter jets have increased sorties that skirt the island’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) – with assurances that he has been in agreement with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the issue.

They also followed a high-level meeting in Zurich on Wednesday at which National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan raised Taiwan and other issues with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi.

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“We are very concerned by the [People’s Republic of China’s] provocative military activity near Taiwan,” Blinken said at the conclusion of an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting in Paris.

“The activity is destabilising, it risks miscalculation, and it has the potential to undermine regional peace and stability,” he said in a news briefing. “So we strongly urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion directed at Taiwan.”

Apparently referring to Washington’s long-standing one-China policy under which it officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, and the Taiwan Relations Act, Biden said on Tuesday that he had discussed Taiwan with Xi, and that they agreed to abide by “the Taiwan agreement”.

Taiwan’s defence ministry reported on Monday that 52 mainland Chinese fighter jets had flown to the island’s southwest ADIZ, a record number that has raised concerns of unintended military incidents.

Tempers in check as China and US foreign policy advisers meet in Zurich

Taiwan said it had scrambled jets and deployed missiles to warn off the mainland aircraft, including 34 J-16 fighter jets, 12 H-6 bombers and two Su-30 jets.

Blinken reiterated Washington’s intention to work with allies to bolster ties with Taiwan.

“The United States has a commitment to Taiwan that is rock solid and over many years has contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and within the region,” he said in Paris. “And we will continue to stand with friends with allies to advance shared prosperity shared security shared values, as well as continue to deepen our ties with a democratic Taiwan.”

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai spoke to her Taiwanese counterpart John Deng online in June as the two governments moved to restart the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks that were discontinued during the Trump administration.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai spoke to her Taiwanese counterpart John Deng online in June as the two governments moved to restart the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks that were discontinued during the Trump administration.

Blinken warned China on another front on Wednesday in an interview on Bloomberg Television, saying that Washington wants Beijing to act “responsibly” when addressing the potential impacts of China Evergrande Group’s financial crisis.

“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.

“So certainly when it comes to something that could have a major impact on the Chinese economy we look to China to act responsibly and to deal effectively with any challenges,” he added.

Blinken’s remarks are the first by a top Biden administration official concerning the real estate developer’s financial crisis, which has threatened broader impacts on the Chinese economy and foreign investors. Xi’s government has signalled it is more interested in limiting those effects than bailing out the developer, one of China’s largest.

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