China warns US a 'dangerous situation' is forming over Taiwan

The US has stepped up its backing for Taiwan since the war in Ukraine started in February. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's top diplomat warned the US it is heading down the "wrong road" with its support for Taiwan, comments accompanied by Beijing again sending military aircraft towards the island.

"If the US side insists on playing the Taiwan card and goes further and further down the wrong road, it will certainly lead the situation to a dangerous point," Mr Yang Jiechi, Beijing's top diplomat, said in a phone call with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Mr Yang said Washington should "have a clear understanding of the situation", according to a statement posted online by his nation's Foreign Ministry.

"China will certainly take firm action to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests," he added.

The White House issued a short statement on the Wednesday (May 18) call, saying the pair "focused on regional security issues and nonproliferation". They also discussed Russia's war against Ukraine and specific issues in US-China relations, it added.

Meanwhile, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said on its website that four People's Liberation Army aircraft, including a pair of J-16 fighter jets, entered its air defence identification zone on Wednesday, skirting close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Earlier this week, Admiral Michael Gilday, the top American naval officer, said Taiwan must prepare itself against potential Chinese aggression through military deterrence that includes getting the right weapons and training. He said this was the a "big lesson learned and a wake up call" following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The US has stepped up its backing for Taiwan since the war in Ukraine started in February, with a group of senior senators including Republican Lindsey Graham visiting last month. China responded to that trip by conducting air and naval training near the island.

Last week, the State Department updated a Taiwan fact sheet posted on its website, dropping a reference to not supporting the island's independence, and describing it as "a leading democracy and a technological powerhouse". It also said Taiwan was a key partner in the semiconductor industry and "other critical supply chains".

On Wednesday, more than 50 senators signed a letter urging President Joe Biden to include Taiwan as a partner in the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, part of Washington's efforts to counter China's clout in Asia. Mr Biden will hold a summit in Tokyo with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia as part of a trip to Asia that begins later this week.

Those four nations form a grouping known as the Quad that is largely aimed at countering China's influence.

Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory that must be brought under control by force if necessary.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-Wen has played down worries Russia's invasion could trigger a similar crisis for Taiwan in the near term. One of the reasons for that is the leadership in Beijing wants domestic stability before a twice-a-decade congress this year that is likely to hand Chinese President Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term in power.

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