The Chinese foreign ministry on Monday denounced the recent movement of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the South China Sea after Beijing sent military aircraft close to Taiwan.
“It does no good to regional peace and stability for the United States to frequently send military vessels and aircraft to the South China Sea to show off muscles,” said Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, according to a transcript of a Monday press conference.
Zhao said Beijing maintains its view that Taiwan is “an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.”
“[R]efrain from sending any wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces so as to avoid damaging China-U.S. relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” Zhao said.
The foreign ministry’s comments come after both Beijing flew military aircraft near Taiwan and the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group moved into the South China Sea over the weekend. According to Reuters, China dispatched aircraft on Saturday and Sunday into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the U.S. “notes with concern” China’s efforts to “intimidate” countries in the region like Taiwan and that China should stop putting pressure on Taipei.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives. We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan,” Price said in a Jan. 23 statement.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan. The United States maintains its longstanding commitments as outlined in the Three Communiqués, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances,” he continued. “We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability. Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
Amid the weekend flights, U.S. Pacific Fleet said in a statement that the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group moved into the South China Sea on Saturday and would perform drills and flight operations while in the waters.
“We all benefit from free and open access to the seas and our operations represent our commitment to maintaining regional security and stability,” Capt. Eric Anduze, the commanding officer of Theodore Roosevelt, said in a statement.
Theodore Roosevelt is deployed to the Indo-Pacific region for the second time in a year.
The Trump administration took a critical tone toward China and made concerns over Beijing’s actions a focal point of U.S. policy, and the new Biden administration appears poised to also pursue a tougher position on China.
“[L]et me just say that I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the State Department, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week during his confirmation hearing. “I disagreed very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”
Blinken also told lawmakers the new administration would maintain America’s commitment to guaranteeing that Taiwan has its own defense capabilities.
“I would also like to see Taiwan playing a greater role around the world including in international organizations. When those organizations don’t require the status of a country to be a member, they should become members. When it does there are other ways that they can participate,” Blinken said. “And I think our own engagement with Taiwan should be looked at and indeed that’s being done, as you know, some regulations were promulgated by the outgoing Secretary of State. We’re going to take a hard look at those pursuant to the Taiwan Assurance Act. And we will – we will look at that.”