© Reuters photo file: The flags of the US and China are seen in this file photo taken on August 2, 2022. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration
By Humeira Pamuk, Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom
NEW YORK (Reuters) – China accused the United States of sending “very wrong and dangerous signals” to Taiwan after the U.S. secretary of state told his Chinese counterpart on Friday that maintaining peace and stability on Taiwan was critical.
Taiwan was the focus of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s 90-minute “frank and honest” discussion on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, a US official told reporters.
“For our part, as the secretary has made clear, it is very important to maintain peace and stability along the coast, which has not changed in accordance with the long-standing one-China policy,” the senior US administration official said.
China’s foreign ministry said in a statement at the meeting that the United States was sending “very wrong and dangerous signals” to Taiwan, and that the more Taiwan’s independence movement expanded, the less likely a peaceful settlement would be.
The minister quoted Wang as saying, “Taiwan’s issue is China’s internal matter, and the United States has no right to interfere in what method is used to resolve the issue.”
Tensions have risen over Taiwan since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August – large Chinese military exercises and US President Joe Biden’s pledge to defend the democratically-ruled island.
Biden’s statement is the clearest yet that US troops will defend the island. It is also the latest example of a departure from America’s long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity,” where it is unclear whether the United States will respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.
The White House said Taiwan policy had not changed, but China said Biden’s comments sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.
In a phone call with Biden in July, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned about Taiwan that “those who play with fire will be destroyed by it.”
The State Department previously said Blinken’s meeting with Wang was part of the US’s efforts to “maintain personal relations and manage competition responsibly.” .”
Blinken “highlighted the implications” if China provided material support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or engaged in mass sanctions, the official added.
US officials have said they have seen no evidence that China has provided such support.
Blinken “underscored that the United States and China and the international community have an obligation to work to prevent the consequences of that invasion and to prevent Russia from taking further provocative actions,” the official said.
China regards Taiwan as one of its territories. Beijing has long vowed to bring Taiwan under its control and has never known that it would not take force to do so.
Taiwan’s government strongly opposes China’s claim to sovereignty and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.
‘Damage our bilateral ties’
Blinken’s meeting with Wang was preceded by a statement among the foreign ministers of the Quad Group of Australia, India, Japan and the United States, which said, referring to the Indo-Pacific, “We strongly oppose any unilateral actions you seek.” to change the status quo or increase tension in the region.”
Since Pelosi’s visit, “China has taken a number of provocative steps to change the status quo,” the US official said.
US Vice President Kamala Harris will discuss Taiwan’s security during bilateral meetings with the leaders of US allies Japan and South Korea when she visits next week, another US official said.
Daniel Russell, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia under President Barack Obama, said the fact that Blinken and Wang met after the uproar over Pelosi’s visit was important, and he hoped some progress would have been made in arranging the meeting between Xi and Biden. Alongside the G-20 summit in November, this will be his first in-person leadership.
“Wang and Blinken’s decision to meet in New York does not guarantee that the November meeting will go ahead smoothly. But if they cannot meet, the prospects for the summit in November are poor,” he said. Russell, now with the Asia Society.
In a speech to the Asia Society in New York on Thursday, Wang said the Taiwan question has become a major concern in China-US relations.
According to information from the Chinese embassy, ”If mishandled, it could damage our bilateral relations.”
Likewise, a decades-old US law that defines Washington’s unofficial relationship with Taiwan – which Beijing rejects – Washington in 2010 Her decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1979 “is based on the expectation that Taiwan’s future will be determined peacefully.”