Amid China's military muscle-flexing across the Taiwan Strait, US Secretary Antony Blinken on Friday (local time) said that Washington is committed to the security of its allies and partners including Japan.
These remarks come as People's Republic of China launched nearly a dozen ballistic missiles toward Taiwan. They landed in waters to the northeast, the east, and southeast of the island. Japan also reported that five of those missiles landed in its exclusive economic zone, understandably causing grave concern.
"We will stick by our allies and partners and work with and through regional organizations to enable friends in the region to make their own decisions, free from coercion. We'll take further steps to demonstrate our commitment to the security of our allies in the region, including Japan," Blinken said as he wrapped his visit to Cambodia which was the first stop of the Secretary's tour to the Indo-Pacific and Africa.
Not backing down from the Chinese aggression, Blinken during a media briefing said, "We will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. We'll continue to conduct standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait, consistent with our longstanding approach to working with allies and partners to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight, which has enabled the region's prosperity for many decades."
Blinken has now landed in Manila for his first visit to the Philippines as Secretary.
Ahead of this visit, the State Secretary said, "The People's Liberation Army has now declared seven restricted zones near Taiwan and say that they will extend a range of military exercises through Monday."
"These provocative actions are a significant escalation. We've seen how Beijing has attempted to change the status quo on Taiwan for some time - for example, more than doubling the number of aircraft flown over the centerline that separates China and Taiwan over the past two years; pursuing economic coercion, political interference, cyber-attacks against Taiwan. Now they've taken dangerous acts to a new level."
The United States has conveyed to the PRC consistently and repeatedly that we do not seek and will not provoke a crisis. Taiwanese President Tsai has said the same thing.
Blinken noted that China has chosen to overreact and use US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.
"We anticipated that China might take steps like this. In fact, we described this exact scenario. The fact is the Speaker's visit was peaceful. There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate, and escalatory military response," he added.
Secretary Blinken reaffirmed US' stance on "One-China" policy and said that nothing has changed about it. He stated that the "One-China" policy is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the three Communiques, and the Six Assurances.
"We don't want unilateral changes to the status quo from either side. We do not support Taiwan independence. We expect cross-strait differences to be resolved peacefully, not coercively or by force."
Even ASEAN also released a statement about the need to de-escalate tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The G7 has rejected Beijing's attempt to coerce and intimidate Taiwan. There are serious concerns not only for Taiwan but for the possibility that these actions by Beijing will destabilize the broader region.
"For our part, the United States will not be provoked. We'll continue to do what we've done for a long time. We'll support cross-strait peace and stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific. You'll see that in the days and weeks ahead."
"Almost half the global container fleet and nearly 90 percent of the world's largest ships passed through the straits this year. That's just one reason why these actions by Beijing are so disruptive," Blinken continued.
State Secretary said that US continues to support Taiwan in cross-strait peace and stability. Blinken said that US Defence Minister Lloyd Austin has directed that the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan remain on station in the general area to monitor the situation.
"In short, the world will see us continue to support the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and advance our shared goals throughout the Indo-Pacific. That is what the region expects of us: to be a steady and responsible leader," Blinken concluded. (ANI)