BEIJING—China on Friday said there is “no room” for compromise or concessions over the issue of Taiwan, following a comment by US President Joe Biden that the US is committed to defending the island if it is attacked.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin reasserted China’s longstanding claim that the island is its territory at a daily briefing after Biden made his comment a day before at a forum hosted by CNN.
China has recently upped its threat to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary by flying warplanes near the island and rehearsing beach landings.
“When it comes to issues related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and other core interests, there is no room for China to compromise or make concessions, and no one should underestimate the strong determination, firm will and strong ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said.
“Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The Taiwan issue is purely an internal affair of China that allows no foreign intervention,” Wang said.
Biden’s comments on Thursday were viewed as stretching the “strategic ambiguity” Washington has maintained over how it would respond to an assault on the self-governing island republic.
The US should “be cautious with its words and actions on the Taiwan issue, and not send any wrong signals to the separatist forces of Taiwan independence, so as not to seriously damage China-US relations and peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Wang said.
China and Taiwan split during a civil war in 1949. The US cut formal diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979 in order to recognize Beijing. The US does not openly contest China’s claim to Taiwan, but is committed by law to ensure the island can defend itself and to treat all threats toward it as matters of “grave concern.”
Under President Xi Jinping, who is also Communist Party leader and head of the armed forces, China has been stepping up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan. Over its National Day weekend at the beginning of the month, China sent a record 149 military aircraft southwest of Taiwan in strike group formations, prompting Taiwan to scramble aircraft and activate its air defense missile systems.
China has also recently held beach landing exercises on its side of the roughly 160-kilometer-wide Taiwan Strait that, like the aircraft incursions, it described as a warning to the administration of Taiwan’s independence-minded President Tsai Ing-wen.
The US has reinforced its support for Taiwan with military sales. State Department spokesman Ned Price said this month that American support for Taiwan is “rock solid.” The US has “also been very clear that we are committed to deepening our ties with Taiwan,” Price said.
On Wednesday, Biden’s pick for ambassador to Beijing, Nicholas Burns, told lawmakers considering his nomination that Americans should “have confidence in our strength” when dealing with the rise of China, a nation he said the US and its allies could manage.
Burns echoed the Biden administration’s stand on cooperating with China where possible but condemning many of its actions, including its policies toward Taiwan and the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong, where it has virtually eliminated dissident voices through stiff legislation and arrests. AP
Image courtesy of Billy H.C. Kwok/Bloomberg