Tuesday, May 11, 2021

US warns Beijing of incursion into Taiwan air defense zone

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The United States has urged China to stop intimidating Taiwan after Chinese fighter jets and bombers flew into the country’s air defense zone, in the second warning to Beijing since Joe Biden became US president on Wednesday .

“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,” the US State Department said.

Taiwan said four Chinese J-16 fighter jets, six H-6 bombers and an anti-submarine plane entered its “air defense identification zone” on Saturday. Taiwanese media reported on Sunday that another group of Chinese military jets also harassed the country’s air defenses.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States was concerned about China’s “model” of intimidating Taiwan – and other neighbors – and reminded Beijing that state relations -United with Taipei were “solid as a rock”.

The warning came three days after the US presidential inauguration, which was attended by Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s representative in the United States. The invitation marked the first time that a de facto Taiwanese ambassador to Washington attended a US presidential inauguration.

Saturday’s incursion was the largest in more than four months. It included the largest number of Chinese bombers entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone for several years. It was the largest since China sent 16 fighters, along with bombers and spy planes, across the unofficial center line into the Taiwan Strait for two consecutive days in September when then-high Keith Krach American official, was visiting Taipei.

The State Department statement marked the second time the Biden administration has criticized Beijing, highlighting how the US-China relationship will be one of the biggest challenges for the new president. The White House this week criticized Beijing for sanctioning 28 Americans, including Mike Pompeo, the former secretary of state.

Ahead of the U.S. election, some critics had expressed concern that Biden would not take a strong stance towards China. But her team has already shown signs that it will put China to the test on a range of issues, including the crackdown on Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the intimidation of Taiwan, and Beijing’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Xinjiang. Hong Kong.

Last month, Jake Biden, now a national security adviser, said he was “deeply concerned” by the arrests of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, and accused China of carrying out an “attack on Hong Kong freedoms. “.

Appearing before the U.S. Senate for their confirmation hearings this week, Tony Blinken, the candidate for secretary of state, and Avril Haines, the newly installed director of national intelligence, said Washington must take a tougher stance on China. Mr Blinken said he did not agree with the way Donald Trump had implemented his hawkish China policy, but that the former president “was right to take a tougher approach.”

China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan and threatens to invade the island if Taipei indefinitely refuses to submit to its control, began crossing the Taiwan Strait with military planes regularly in March 2019, which the two sides did had largely avoided over the previous two decades.

Over the past year, the PLA has started conducting near-daily sorties in the southwest corner of the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone, a major staging area between the Chinese coast and the western Pacific. and the South China Sea.

But according to reports from Taiwan’s defense minister, the vast majority of sorties are carried out by one to three surveillance or anti-submarine warfare planes. It was only during visits by US Secretary of Health Alex Azar and Mr Krach last year that China sent more planes, including fighters.

Taiwanese observers believe China’s latest exit could be a sign of its displeasure at Ms. Hsiao’s invitation to the inauguration.

To follow Demetri Sevastopulo and Kathrin hille on Twitter



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