US and Chinese presidents emphasize commitment to the agreement with Taiwan after unprecedented Chinese airstrikes as top officials prepare to meet.
US President Joe Biden has said he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan after Beijing sent a record number of military planes to the island’s air defense zone (ADIZ).
Asked by a reporter about “China’s provocation against Taiwan,” Biden said on Tuesday that he and Xi had discussed the matter.
“I have spoken with Xi (Chinese President Xi Jinping) about Taiwan,” Biden said at the White House. “We agree, we will abide by the agreement with Taiwan, and we have made it clear that I think he should do nothing but abide by the agreement.”
Taiwan said it was a record 56 Chinese aircraft in his ADIZ on Monday, in a series of military maneuvers that began on Friday, China’s national holiday, prompting the island to scramble fighter jets in response. Beijing has ramped up cross-border activity this year, with the number of recorded incidents set to double its 2020 level on schedule.
Although the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with the self-governed island, which China claims as its own, it is legally obliged to protect Taiwan and is the largest source of military and political support.
Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang warned on Tuesday that China’s actions jeopardized regional peace and stability, while President Tsai Ing-wen warned of the “catastrophic consequences” for the Asia-Pacific region if Taiwan fell to China. .
“If its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do everything in its power to defend itself,” Tsai wrote in an article published Tuesday in the leading journal Foreign Affairs.
China has blamed the US for the heightened tensions, with the two economic giants at odds not only over Taiwan, but also over issues such as trade, Hong Kong, the situation in China’s far western region, Xinjiang, and the coronavirus.
Earlier, the US announced that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan would meet with top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in Switzerland on Wednesday for their first eye in eye discussion since bitter talks in Alaska in March, which also involved US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The White House said in a statement that the meeting follows on from Biden’s conversation with Xi on September 9, “as we continue to strive for responsible management of competition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.”
That call closed a nearly seven-month gap in direct communication between the leaders, and they discussed the need to ensure that competition between the two – with relations sinking to the lowest level in decades – does not fall into a conflict results.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper quoted an official familiar with the arrangements for the Zurich meeting as saying the aim is “to rebuild communication channels and implement the consensus reached” between Xi and Biden. .
‘It’s not a thaw. It’s not a re-engagement,” Evan Medeiros, an Asia specialist in former President Barack Obama’s administration, said of the Zurich meeting.
“It’s about getting serious and systematic about competition. That means we have to be very clear about borders, our perception of their behaviour, especially the recent number of air force strikes around Taiwan.”