US and China FMs meet amid Taiwan tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Chinese State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the 77th United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 23, 2022. - Reuters

NEW YORK: Senior diplomats from the United States and China were due to meet with tensions high after a visit to Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and an explicit pledge by US President Joe Biden to defend the Chinese-claimed island.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was expected to meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in New York on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly yesterday.

The State Department said it was part of Washington’s ongoing efforts to “maintain open lines of communication and manage competition responsibly”.

The meeting comes days after Biden said US forces would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion, drawing an angry response from China that said it sent the wrong signal to those seeking an independent Taiwan.Biden’s statement is the latest instance of his appearing to go beyond a long-standing US policy of “strategic ambiguity”, which does not make it clear whether Washington would respond militarily to an attack on Taiwan.

His comments were also the most explicit to date about committing US troops to the defend the island, although the White House insisted its Taiwan policy had not changed.

In a phone call with Biden in July, China’s leader Xi Jinping warned about Taiwan, saying “those who play with fire will perish by it”.After Pelosi’s solidarity visit to Taipei early last month, China deployed scores of planes and fired live missiles near the island.

Earlier in the week, Wang met with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the architect of US relations with communist China, and said a “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan was China’s aspiration.

But he said the possibility of a peaceful resolution was diminished by ever more “rampant” Taiwanese independence sentiment and he invoked a Chinese proverb: “It is better to lose a thousand soldiers than an inch of territory.” — Reuters

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