Any attempt by China to forcefully change the status quo with Taiwan would hit “quite literally every country on earth,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned in an interview with Euronews in which he also made clear his country does not seek a direct confrontation with Beijing.
China considers Taiwan a breakaway province and has vowed to reunite the democratic island with the mainland, a goal that Western countries interpret as a coded language for a possible full-scale military intervention sometime in the future.
These fears have drastically increased after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has caused an evident deterioration in relations between China and the West.
Speaking to Euronews after a meeting on Wednesday of NATO foreign affairs ministers in Brussels, Antony Blinken shared his personal anxiety and warned of far-reaching and enormously damaging consequences if China makes a unilateral move against Taiwan.
“I heard this in conversations with many of our NATO allies as well as partners in Asia: there is concern that, were there to be a crisis as a result of China’s actions over Taiwan, that would have repercussions for quite literally every country on earth,” Blinken said.
“50% of global commercial traffic goes through the Taiwan Strait every day. 70% of the semiconductors that we need for our smartphones, for our dishwashers, for our cars, they’re made in Taiwan,” he went on.
“If there was some kind of crisis as a result of something that China did, that would have terribly disruptive effects on the global economy, which is why countries around the world look to everyone to behave and act responsibly.”
‘We’re not trying to contain China’
Blinken’s comments come as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California, a high-profile encounter that triggered verbal threats from Beijing.
Despite the growing tensions between the two superpowers, the Secretary of State insisted Washington would not alter the long-standing One China policy that recognises the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China.
Taiwan, an advanced economy and leading exporter of high-tech products, is by contrast recognised as an independent state by just 13 small-sized countries.
“We have been very clear that we do not want, we do not seek a conflict. We’re not trying to contain China. We, on the contrary, want to preserve peace, stability, create opportunity,” Blinken said.
“When it comes to Taiwan, our policy has been consistent for decades. Any differences between mainland China and Taiwan need to be resolved peacefully. Neither side should do anything to disrupt the status quo, nor take any unilateral actions that would do that.”
Blinken noted that every country has “complicated and very consequential” relations with China and defended a strategy of “de-risking” rather than decoupling.
This approach was recently voiced by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a critical speech, which Blinken described as “very strong and totally consistent” with America’s China policy.
“Yes, we’re in competition. Nothing wrong with competition as long as it’s fair,” the Secretary of State said.
“But we want to make sure that that competition does not veer into conflict.”
‘China is trying to have it both ways’
During his interview with Euronews, Blinken also spoke about China’s role in the Ukraine war, which Western countries have criticised as overly ambivalent and vague, and expressed his hope Beijing would refrain from supplying lethal aid to Moscow, a much-dreaded scenario that diplomats and analysis said would be a game-changer.
“I think China’s also trying to have it both ways,” Blinken said.
“It wants to be seen as trying to advance peace and at the same time, it continues to support Russia in different ways, rhetorically, making its case in international institutions, advancing Russian propaganda about the aggression.”
Blinken painted Russia as “increasingly dependent” on China and the “junior partner” in the pair, an unbalanced relation that gives Beijing “some leverage” over Moscow.
The Secretary then urged China, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, to use this influence to uphold international law and convince the Kremlin to give back the occupied territories in Ukraine, a condition that in his view is non-negotiable to strike a peace deal.
“A just peace is one that respects the basic principles of the United Nations charter, including territorial integrity. It can’t be a peace that endorses Russia’s seizure by force of so much of Ukraine’s territory,” Blinken said.
“And it needs to be durable in the sense that we can’t just have something that allows Russia to rest, to refit its troops and then to reattack when it’s more convenient.”
Also in the interview, Blinken celebrated Finland’s becoming the 31st member of NATO and appeared convinced that Sweden, which applied for entrance at the same time as Helsinki did, would join the alliance by the time NATO convenes a leaders’ summit in July.
Sweden’s bid is currently blocked by Turkey and Hungary, which are yet to ratify the application.
Asked if Turkey’s hesitancy was related to Ankara’s pending request to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets from America, the Secretary said both issues were “totally separate.”
“We support Turkey getting an upgraded F-16 programme,” Blinken said. “That is for us, for the Biden administration, independent of the accession process to NATO or, for that matter, any other question.”
Source : EuroNews