China says US sending ‘very wrong, dangerous signals’ on Taiwan

BEIJING/NEW YORK – China said the United States is sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” on Taiwan after the US secretary of state told his Chinese counterpart on Friday that the maintenance of peace and stability over Taiwan was vitally important.

Taiwan was the focus of the 90-minute, “direct and honest” talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York, a US official told reporters.

“For our part, the secretary made crystal clear that, in accordance with our long-standing one-China policy, which again has not changed, the maintenance of peace and stability across the Strait is absolutely, vitally important,” the senior US administration official said.

China’s foreign ministry, in a statement on the meeting, said the United States was sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” on Taiwan, and the more rampant Taiwan’s independence activity, the less likely there would be a peaceful settlement.

“The Taiwan issue is an internal Chinese matter, and the United States has no right to interfere in what method will be used to resolve it,” the ministry cited Mr Wang as saying.

Tensions over Taiwan have soared after a visit there in August by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi – which was followed by large-scale Chinese military drills – as well as a pledge by US President Joe Biden to defend the democratically governed island.

Mr Biden’s statement was his most explicit to date about committing US troops to the defend the island. It was also the latest instance of his appearing to go beyond a long-standing US policy of “strategic ambiguity,” which does not make it clear whether the United States would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.

The White House has insisted its Taiwan policy has not changed, but China said Mr Biden’s remarks sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.

In a phone call with Mr Biden in July, Chinese leader Xi Jinping warned about Taiwan, saying “those who play with fire will perish by it.”

The State Department had said earlier that Mr Blinken’s meeting with Mr Wang was part of a US effort to “maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly,” and the senior official said Mr Blinken had reiterated US openness to “cooperating with China on matters of global concern.”

Mr Blinken also “highlighted the implications” if China were to provide material support to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or engage in wholesale sanctions evasion, the official added.

US officials have in the past said they had seen no evidence of China providing such support.

Mr Blinken “underscored that the United States and China and the international community have an obligation to work to counter the effects of that invasion and also to deter Russia from taking further provocative actions,” the official said.

China sees Taiwan as one of its provinces. Beijing has long vowed to bring Taiwan under its control and has not ruled out the use of force to do so.

Taiwan’s government strongly objects to China’s sovereignty claims and says only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.