BEIJING – The US is sending a “very wrong and dangerous signal” in its recent moves pledging support for Taiwan, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, even as his American counterpart stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Mr Wang warned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday that current relations had “suffered a serious shock” and are at a critical juncture, emphasising the urgency for both sides to mend ties.
The two diplomats had met for 90 minutes on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The US has no right to interfere in how the Taiwan issue is resolved, Mr Wang was reported to have said to Mr Blinken, according to Chinese official news agency Xinhua.
It also reported Mr Wang as saying that the more rampant Taiwan independence activities are, the less likely the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question will be.
The two men had last met in July in Bali where they spoke for more than five hours, during which Mr Blinken had raised concerns over China’s alignment with Russia amid the war in Ukraine.
That meeting gave hope that the two rival powers were moving towards patching their frayed relations.
But tensions have heightened since over what Beijing views as deliberately provocative moves by Washington on the issue of Taiwan.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island in August angered China, which swiftly ramped up unprecedented military exercises in the Taiwan Strait and halted cooperation with the US including on military and climate change issues.
In a televised interview last Sunday in the US, President Joe Biden said he would defend Taiwan if it came under an “unprecedented attack” from Chinese forces.
That pledge drew a strong rebuke from Beijing, which filed a formal protest with Washington.
While the White House later clarified that the official US policy towards Taiwan – in which it acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of China – has not changed, Beijing is increasingly anxious that Washington is shifting from this commitment.
The US State Department said in a statement after Friday’s meeting that Mr Blinken had stressed the importance of keeping open lines of communication, especially during times of tension.
The US is committed to maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, consistent with its longstanding one-China policy, Mr Blinken was quoted as saying, and it remains open to cooperating with China.
He was said to have also warned Beijing not to support Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Uzbekistan on Sept 15, during which he pledged to extend “strong mutual support” on issues related to each other’s core interests.
The meeting between Mr Wang and Mr Blinken is expected to pave the way for an anticipated face-to-face meeting between Mr Xi and Mr Biden. This could happen in Bali in November during a summit of the Group of 20 nations.
In a speech to the Asia Society in New York on Thursday, Mr Wang also sounded a warning over Taiwan, describing Taiwan independence as a “highly disruptive grey rhino charging towards us that must be stopped resolutely”.
“We have always worked with the greatest sincerity and effort to pursue peaceful reunification, but we will never tolerate any activity aimed at secession,” he said.