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China faults Blinken for demanding ‘peaceful resolution’ of Taiwan controversy

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s insistence on a “peaceful resolution” of Chinese Communist claims to sovereignty over Taiwan has drawn a complaint from Beijing.

“In his remarks, Secretary Blinken also linked the US’s ‘One China’ policy to China’s commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question, saying the latter is at the heart of the former,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Tuesday. “I need to stress that this is not a reiteration but an alteration of the US’s commitments.”

Intensifying competition between the United States and China has foregrounded the strategic significance of Taiwan. U.S. and allied officials, especially in Japan, regard the island democracy as a crucial link in the balance of regional power, which raises the stakes of the Chinese general secretary’s emphatic insistence that Taipei must be subject to the regime in Beijing.

“There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years,” Blinken said Monday at Stanford University. “And instead of sticking with the status quo that was established in a positive way, a fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline.”


The regional anxiety about a military crisis over Taiwan has risen in the months since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his campaign to overthrow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russia has used the threat of nuclear retaliation to deter any direct Western intervention on behalf of Ukraine, setting a precedent that could embolden China to attack Taiwan, many officials fear.

“I myself have a strong sense of urgency that Ukraine today, maybe East Asia tomorrow,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in June. “We must be prepared for the emergence of an entity that tramples on the peace and security of other countries by force or threat without honoring the rules.”

China perceives a window of opportunity to attack Taiwan before 2027, some U.S. officials and analysts believe. President Joe Biden has declared on multiple occasions that the United States would intervene in that scenario on behalf of Taiwan, but his White House team has walked back those statements and cast them as off-the-cuff remarks which do not reflect U.S. policy.

“We are determined to make good on our commitments to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and support their ability to defend themselves,” Blinken said Tuesday. “We also remain fundamentally committed to the ‘One China’ policy as well … but at the heart of that was a commitment to resolve these differences peacefully, and if that’s changing, then that does offer, unfortunately, prospects for very challenging situations going forward.”

Taiwan occupies an ambiguous space in global diplomacy. The island functioned as a refuge for the government of the Republic of China, which was overthrown during the Chinese Communist revolution. The United States moved its embassy from Taipei to Beijing in 1979 as part of an effort to drive a wedge between the Chinese Communist Party and the Soviet Union, but the U.S. declined “to take any position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan,” as Ronald Reagan’s administration put it in 1982.

“The U.S. pledged to maintain only non-official ties with Taiwan, but in recent years it has substantially relaxed restrictions on official interactions with the region,” said Wang, the Chinese diplomatic spokesman. “The U.S. promised to gradually reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution. But in fact, since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the U.S., U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been increasing in both quantitative and qualitative terms, exceeding $70 billion to date.”

That alleged promise does not appear in the federal law that underpins U.S. policy toward Taiwan. The law, adopted in 1979, requires the executive branch to “provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character.” It does not include a pledge to defend Taiwan from a Chinese Communist attack, but the law stipulates that the United States must retain the option “to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or social or economic system, of the people of Taiwan.”

Chinese officials staged a temporary blockade of Taiwan in August, apropos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. Taiwanese officials expect Xi to intensify pressure next year.

“I hope that Beijing will come back to a place where it actually sees the merits in making sure that differences are peacefully resolved, that it doesn’t try to force things through coercion, and even worse, through force,” Blinken said.

Wang, the foreign ministry spokesman, said that “national reunification by peaceful means is the first choice of the CPC and the Chinese government in resolving the Taiwan question,” but he reiterated Beijing’s willingness to use force if Taiwanese officials do not defer.


“We will leave no room for separatist activities in any form,” he said. “Division of the country for ‘Taiwan independence’ and a peaceful solution are incompatible with each other. The more rampant ‘Taiwan independence’ forces are, the less likely it is for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question. To truly safeguard peace across the Taiwan Strait, there needs to be unequivocal opposition to all ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist acts and such acts must be stopped.”

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