West News Wire: The United States has been accused by China of sending “extremely erroneous, dangerous signals” about Taiwan. Beijing has informed Washington that it has “no right to interfere” with Beijing’s efforts to “resolve” the Taiwan problem.
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” discussions about Taiwan, a US source told reporters.
The senior US administration official stated, “The secretary made crystal clear that, in accordance with our long-standing one-China policy, which again has not altered, the maintenance of peace and security across the Strait is absolutely, vitally crucial.”
China’s foreign ministry, in a statement on the meeting, said Washington was sending “very wrong, dangerous signals” about 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 Wang as saying.
Chinese state media said that Wang’s meeting with Blinken addressed China’s position on the “wrong behaviour” of the US towards Taiwan.
“We must clearly oppose and prevent ‘Taiwan independence’,” China’s Global Times news outlet cited Wang as telling Blinken.
Tensions over Taiwan have soared since 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 recent pledge by US President Joe Biden to defend the democratically governed island.
Biden’s statement was his most explicit to date about committing US troops to defend Taiwan.
Wang had a similar message for the United Kingdom’s foreign minister James Cleverly during a meeting earlier this week, also on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York.
Wang said the UK should “honour its one-China commitment and unequivocally oppose ‘Taiwan independence’,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The White House has insisted its Taiwan policy has not changed, but China said Biden’s remarks sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.
China sees Taiwan as one of its provinces. Beijing has long promised 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.
In a phone call with 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 Blinken’s meeting with Wang on Friday was part of a US effort to “maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly”.
Daniel Russel, the top US diplomat for Asia under President Barack Obama, said the fact Blinken and Wang had met was important after the turbulence brought by Pelosi’s visit.
Russel said that hopefully some progress would have been made towards arranging a meeting between Xi and Biden on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in November, which would be their first in person as leaders.
The November summit’s success or even its existence are not guaranteed by Wang and Blinken’s willingness to meet in New York. However, if they were unable to convene, it would have indicated that the chances of a summit in November were slim, according to Russel, who is currently with the Asia Society Policy Institute.
Wang stated that the Taiwan issue was becoming the largest concern to China-US relations in a lecture given to the Asia Society on Thursday in New York.
According to a translation from the Chinese embassy, Wang stated that “should it be handled improperly, it is most likely to destroy our bilateral ties.”