WASHINGTON – The United States on Saturday called on China to show restraint as Beijing launched military drills around Taiwan, stressing that Washington was ready to meet its security commitments in Asia.
“Our channels of communication with the PRC remain open and we have consistently urged restraint and no change to the status quo,” a State Department spokesman said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
“We are comfortable and confident that we have in place sufficient resources and capabilities in the region to ensure peace and stability and to meet our national security commitments,” the spokesman said, adding that the United States was “monitoring Beijing’s actions closely.”
The US has been ambiguous on whether it would militarily defend Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by Beijing, although for decades it has sold weapons to Taipei to help ensure its self-defence.
The US has treaty-bound commitments to defend nearby allies in the region, notably Japan, whose waters were affected when China last carried out military exercises around Taiwan in August.
China announced the military drills as a “stern warning” to Taiwan whose president, Tsai Ing-wen, met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday in California.
US officials had repeatedly called on China to stay calm and described Ms Tsai’s visit as a routine “transit” on her way to and from Latin America.
“As we have said, there is no reason for Beijing to turn this transit – which was consistent with longstanding US practice and policy – into something it is not or use it as pretext to overreact,” the State Department spokesman said on Saturday.
China had initially appeared to have a more muted response than in August when Mr McCarthy’s predecessor Nancy Pelosi flew to Taiwan.
Mr McCarthy – whose meeting with Ms Tsai in his home state had been seen as an attempt by Taiwan to avoid the more serious repercussions from China if he had visited – voiced defiance after the launch of the military drills.
“I am the Speaker of the House. There is no place that China is going to tell me where I can go or who I can speak to,” Mr McCarthy wrote on Twitter. AFP