Last month, US President Joe Biden warned that the US would use its military to intervene in any hypothetical confrontation between China and Taiwan. Although, according to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Washington is not looking to establish an “Asian NATO” or incite conflict in the Indo-Pacific area, but rather to preserve calm.
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Austin stated in a keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier security conference, that “the stakes are especially stark in the Taiwan Strait.” This follows China’s repeated cautions against US military collaboration with Taiwan, which Beijing regards to be part of its territory.
Austin emphasized that Washington’s position toward Taiwan remained unaltered: the US is dedicated to the One-China policy, “categorically opposes any unilateral changes in the status quo,” and so opposes the island’s sovereignty.
While Austin believes that “cross-strait differences must be resolved by peaceful means,” he also noted that the US will continue to support Taiwan “in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.”
Austin stated that, despite China’s “growing coercion” and “provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan,” the US stays committed to “maintaining peace, stability, and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” which Beijing appears to be threatening. Austin emphasized that keeping peace is not only in Washington’s concerns, but also “a matter of international concern.”
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Austin met with his Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, on Friday, who informed him that Beijing will “fight at all costs” to keep Taiwan from seeking independence from China.
China “strongly condemned” Washington’s authorization of a $120 million arms sale with Taiwan just two days earlier, and has urged the parties to terminate the agreement.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, speaking at a routine briefing on Thursday, said the military shipments “seriously violate the one-China principle,” damage China’s sovereignty and security interests, and “severely harm China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”
Last month, US President Joe Biden warned that the US would use its military to intervene in any hypothetical confrontation between China and Taiwan, clearly ignoring the US’ long-standing position of ‘strategic ambiguity’ on the island and its ties with Beijing.
Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken retracted Biden’s assertion and declared that the US remains committed to the One-China policy, which acknowledges but does not endorse Beijing’s sovereignty over Taiwan and neither guarantees nor rules out US armed interference if China threatens to annex Taiwan by force.
The island is a self-governing region that has been de facto self-ruled since 1949, when the losing party in the Chinese Civil War evacuated to Taipei and established its own government. Beijing regards Taiwan’s leaders as separatists, claiming that Taiwan is an integral part of China.