CHINA/UNITED STATES: The United States has been accused by China of sending “extremely erroneous, dangerous signals” over Taiwan, and Beijing has informed Washington that it has “no right to meddle” with Beijing’s attempts to “resolve” the Taiwan issue.
On the fringes of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had 90 minutes of “direct and honest” conversations about Taiwan, a US source told reporters.
“The secretary made it quite clear that the maintenance of peace and security across the Strait is, vitally necessary, by our long-standing one-China policy, which again has not altered,” a senior US administration official said.
In a statement at the meeting, China’s foreign ministry stated that Washington was sending “extremely erroneous, dangerous signals” to Taiwan and that the more aggressively Taiwan pursues independence, the less likely it was that a peaceful resolution would be reached.
The ministry cited Wang as saying, “The Taiwan issue is an internal Chinese affair, and the United States has no authority to interfere in how it will be resolved.”
According to Chinese official media, Wang and Blinken discussed China’s position on the “wrong behaviour” of the US towards Taiwan during their meeting.
Wang was quoted as saying to Blinken by China’s Global Times news agency, “We must emphatically reject and prevent Taiwan independence.”
Since Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan in August and large-scale military exercises were held there in response, tensions over the island have risen. Additionally, US President Joe Biden recently vowed to defend the democratically-run island.
In a meeting earlier this week, also on the fringes of the UNGA in New York, Wang had a similar message for the foreign minister of the United Kingdom, James Cleverly.
China’s foreign ministry released a statement from Wang in which he urged the UK to “honour its one-China commitment and resolutely oppose Taiwan independence.”
The policy remains unchanged
Although China claimed that Biden’s comments sent the incorrect message to those pushing for Taiwan’s independence, the White House reaffirmed that its policy on Taiwan has not changed.
Taiwan is considered one of China’s provinces. Beijing has always pledged to subjugate Taiwan and hasn’t ruled out using force to accomplish so. But, the government of Taiwan vehemently rejects China’s claims to sovereignty and maintains that only the 23 million residents of the island can decide its future.
Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a warning over Taiwan in a phone conversation with Biden in July, stating that “those who play with fire will perish by it.”
Blinken’s meeting with Wang on Friday was a part of an attempt by the US to “keep open channels of communication and manage competition appropriately,” the State Department had earlier stated.
Shred our bilateral ties
Before Blinken met with Wang, the foreign ministers of the Quad grouping of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States met. In a joint statement, the grouping said that it “strongly opposes any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo or increase tensions in the region” about the Indo-Pacific.
The US official claimed that since Pelosi’s visit, “China has taken several aggressive moves that have intentionally worked to upset the status quo.”
Another American official stated that when visiting Japan and South Korea next week, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will speak bilaterally with their leaders about Taiwan security.
After the turmoil caused by Pelosi’s visit, Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia under President Barack Obama, emphasised the significance of Blinken and Wang’s meeting.
He added that he hoped some progress had been made toward setting up a meeting between Xi and Biden, which would be their first face-to-face encounter as leaders, on the fringes of the G-20 summit in November.
The November summit may not take place or go as planned, despite Wang and Blinken’s decision to meet in New York. But if they couldn’t get together, it would have indicated that the chances of a summit in November were slim, according to Russel, who is now working for the Asia Society Policy Institute.
The Taiwan issue is becoming the biggest risk to China-US relations, according to Wang, who claimed in a lecture to the Asia Society on Thursday in New York.
Wang warned, according to a translation from the Chinese embassy, “Should it be mishandled, it is most likely to destroy our bilateral ties.”