US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken (AP/PTI Photo)
Washington: Amid China flexing its military muscle across the Taiwan Strait, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday (local time) that Washington remains committed to the security of its friends and partners, including Japan.
The comments came as the People’s Republic of China fired nearly a dozen ballistic missiles toward Taiwan. They landed in the north-east, east and south-east of the island. Japan also reported that five of those missiles landed in its exclusive economic zone, which has understandably raised serious concerns.
“We will stick with our allies and partners and work with and through regional organizations to empower friends in the region to make their own decisions, free from coercion. We will take further steps to demonstrate our commitment to the security of our allies in the region, including Japan,” Blinken said during a visit to Cambodia that was the first stop on the secretary’s Indo-Pacific and Africa tour.
Undeterred by Chinese aggression, Blinken said during a media briefing, “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. We will continue standard air and sea transit through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our long-term vision of working with allies and partners to maintain the freedom of navigation and overflight that has enabled the region’s prosperity for decades.
Blinken has now arrived in Manila for his first visit to the Philippines as Secretary. Ahead of the visit, the state secretary said, “The People’s Liberation Army has now declared seven restricted zones near Taiwan and said it will extend the range of military exercises until Monday.”
“These provocative actions are a significant escalation. We’ve seen how Beijing has tried to change its position on Taiwan for some time – for example, more than doubling the number of flights over the center that separates China and Taiwan over the past two years; Pursuing economic coercion, political interference, cyber attacks on Taiwan. Now they have taken dangerous activities to a new level.”
The United States has consistently and repeatedly told the PRC that we do not seek and provoke crisis. President Tsai of Taiwan has also said the same. Blinken noted that China has chosen to use and overreact to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit as an excuse to escalate provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.
“We expected China to take such steps. In fact, we have described this exact scenario. The fact is that the Speaker’s visit was peaceful. There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalating military response,” he added.
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Secretary Blinken reiterated the US position on the “one-China” policy and said that nothing has changed. He said the “One-China” policy is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three Declarations and the Six Promises.
“We don’t want unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We do not support Taiwan’s independence. We expect that cross-strait differences will be resolved peacefully, not by force or coercion.
ASEAN also issued a statement on the need to de-escalate tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The G7 has rejected Beijing’s attempts to coerce and intimidate Taiwan. There are serious concerns not only for Taiwan, but about the possibility that these actions by Beijing will destabilize the wider region.
“For our part, the United States will not be provoked. We will continue to do what we have done for a long time. We will support cross-strait peace and stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific. You will see that in the coming days and weeks.”
“Almost half of the global container fleet and about 90 percent of the world’s largest ships passed through the strait this year. This is just one of the reasons why these actions by Beijing are so disruptive,” Blinken added.
The Secretary of State said the US continues to support Taiwan for cross-Strait peace and stability. Blinken said US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had ordered the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation.
“In short, the world will see us continue to support the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and advance our shared goals throughout the Indo-Pacific. That is what the region expects from us: to be a stable and responsible leader,” Blinken concluded.
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