Blinken Warns of Risks in China’s ‘Provocative’ Taiwan Moves
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized China’s recent military maneuvers around Taiwan, urging leaders in Beijing to stop such behavior for fear of a miscalculation.
“The actions we’ve seen by China are provocative and potentially destabilizing,” Blinken said Wednesday in an interview in Paris with Bloomberg Television. “What I hope is that these actions will cease because there’s always the possibility of miscalculation, of miscommunication, and that’s dangerous.”
China has ratcheted up tension around Taiwan in recent weeks, sending scores of warplanes into the island’s air-defense-identification zone. At the same time, the U.S. and several allies, including Japan and the U.K., have been conducting naval drills in nearby waters.
“It’s very important that no one take unilateral actions that change the status quo by force,” Blinken said in the interview, conducted on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “We need to see China stop these actions.”
In a news conference later in the day, Blinken called the U.S.-Taiwan relationship “rock solid.” His remarks on China’s actions echoed those by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday, comments that prompted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying to criticize the U.S. for its “extremely erroneous and irresponsible” statements toward an island it considers its territory.
Blinken said “we’ll see” whether U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are able to meet in person in coming weeks or months. The leaders of the world’s two largest economies have yet to meet face-to-face since Biden became president, and the U.S. administration has so far signaled it will continue with former President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to China, especially on trade.
While there had been s
peculation that Biden and Xi might meet in person at the Group of 20 summit in Rome this month, Chinese diplomats have informed members that Xi doesn’t currently plan to attend the gathering, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. Xi hasn’t left the country since the early days of the pandemic, the longest gap without a foreign trip by any G-20 leader.
On Tuesday, Biden said he and Xi have reaffirmed their agreement on Taiwan.
In Zurich on Wednesday, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met for talks with China’s top official for foreign affairs, Yang Jiechi. A White House statement said Sullivan raised a host of contentious issues -- including “human rights, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan” -- in their discussion.
“Mr. Sullivan made clear that while we will continue to invest in our own national strength and work closely with our allies and partners, we will also continue to engage with the PRC at a senior level to ensure responsible competition,” according to the statement.
Taiwan has recently stepped up warnings about China’s military threats in an apparent appeal for greater international support. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a piece published in Foreign Affairs magazine Tuesday that the island’s fall “would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system,” while Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said Wednesday that China would be capable of mounting a full-scale invasion by 2025.
Blinken said the U.S. relationship with China was “one of the most consequential relationships in the world,” with adversarial, competitive and cooperative aspects to it. He said the challenge of climate change, which he called an “existential” issue, was one area of possible cooperation.
“It’s important for both of us to step up and meet our responsibilities,” Blinken said, including steps such as moving away from coal, a major source of energy for China.
Pressed on the financial woes of Chinese property developer China Evergrande Group, Blinken said the U.S. is looking to China “to act responsibly and to deal effectively with any challenges.”
“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.
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