The United States reaffirmed its support for Taiwan after eight Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the island’s air defense identification zone.
The US State Department said on Saturday that it “notes with concern the trend [China’s] ongoing attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan ”.
“We urge Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with the democratically elected representatives of Taiwan,” spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
Washington will continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defense against Chinese threats while supporting peaceful resolution of issues between the parties, the statement said.
The United States urges Beijing to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with the democratically elected representatives of Taiwan. We support a peaceful resolution of the problems between the straits. https://t.co/o2rZL4onJ8
– Ned Price (@statedeptspox) January 24, 2021
“Our commitment to Taiwan is strong and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” he added.
There was no immediate response from China.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said China sent eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets in the airspace just southwest of the island, part of a long-standing pattern of Chinese incursions to pressure President Tsai Ing-wen’s government to yields to Beijing’s request to recognize Taiwan as part of Chinese territory.
The latest Chinese overview came on the heels of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, highlighting the island’s enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between the parties that also include human rights, trade disputes and , most recently, questions about China’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic. .
Biden’s administration has shown little sign of easing pressure on China on these issues, although it is seen as supporting a return to more civil dialogue.
Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed thanks for the US support on Sunday, adding that it would work closely with the Biden administration to strengthen their partnership.
Lo Chih-cheng, a top lawmaker from the ruling Progressive Democratic Party in Taiwan who sits on the parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee, also told Reuters news agency that China was trying to dissuade the new US government from support the island.
“It sends a message to the Biden administration,” he said.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and China says it is determined to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.
The United States changed diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but it is legally obligated to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself and that the autonomous democratic island has strong bipartisan support in Washington.
Emily Horne, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to Taiwan after the island’s de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended the Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday.
In a final glance at China, the outgoing Trump administration ambassador to the UN tweeted that it is time for the world to oppose China’s efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, prompting strong criticism of Beijing.
Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the United Nations General Assembly Hall, where the island is banned.
She was carrying a handbag with a teddy bear sticking out from the top, a gift from Taiwan’s representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.
Tsai has sought to bolster the island’s defenses with the purchase of billions of dollars in U.S. weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems, and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting ships and land targets.
It has also stepped up support for Taiwan’s native arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China’s ever-growing naval capabilities.
China’s growing threats come as economic and political incentives bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and send fighter jets and reconnaissance planes almost daily to the island of 24 million. population, located 160 km (100 miles) off the southeast coast of China. across the Taiwan Strait.