The Pentagon’s high China official is to go to Taiwan within the coming days, a uncommon journey to the island by a senior US defence policymaker that comes as relations between Washington and Beijing are mired in disaster over a suspected Chinese language spy balloon shot down two weeks in the past.
Michael Chase, deputy assistant secretary of defence for China, will go to Taiwan within the coming days, in line with 4 individuals acquainted with his journey. He’s presently in Mongolia for discussions with the nation’s navy.
Chase could be the primary senior defence official to go to Taiwan since Heino Klinck, deputy assistant secretary for east Asia, went in 2019. On the time, he was probably the most senior Pentagon official to go to the island in 4 many years.
The go to comes as US-China relations have sunk to a brand new low after the Chinese language navy flew a big balloon over North America for eight days till an F-22 shot it down off the coast of South Carolina.
China says the balloon was a civilian craft doing meteorological analysis, however the US insists it was getting used to conduct surveillance over delicate navy websites, together with nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile silos in Montana.
President Joe Biden on Thursday mentioned he planned to talk to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to “get to the underside” of the balloon incident, which has sparked calls in Congress for the US to take a fair harder line on Beijing.
The Pentagon declined to touch upon the journey to Taiwan. However it careworn that US “help for, and defence relationship with, Taiwan stays aligned in opposition to the present menace posed by the Individuals’s Republic of China”.
“Our dedication to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the upkeep of peace and stability throughout the Taiwan Strait and inside the area,” added the Pentagon spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners.
The deliberate go to comes at a delicate second in relations between Washington and Beijing. US secretary of state Antony Blinken is making an attempt to fulfill Wang Yi, the highest Chinese language international coverage official, on the Munich safety convention this weekend. However two individuals acquainted with the talks mentioned Wang had not but agreed to such a gathering.
Three weeks in the past, Blinken cancelled a planned trip to China at quick discover due to the balloon incident. He had been scheduled to fulfill Xi. The state division didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Tensions between Washington and Beijing additionally stay excessive over Taiwan. A high American Air Power normal just lately mentioned he believed the US and China would probably go to conflict over Taiwan in 2025. The Pentagon moved shortly to say that his feedback didn’t replicate the official view.
Beijing opposes visits to Taipei by US officers or lawmakers. Final August, the Chinese language navy held large-scale navy workout routines, together with flying ballistic missiles over Taiwan, after Nancy Pelosi grew to become the primary Speaker of the US Home of Representatives to go to the island in 25 years.
Beijing argues that visits to Taiwan, over which it claims sovereignty, dilute Washington’s “one China” coverage. Beneath the coverage, which has been in place for the reason that US and China established relations in 1979, the Washington recognises Beijing as the only authorities of China and acknowledges, with out endorsing, the Chinese language view that Taiwan is a part of China.
Whereas the Biden administration has prevented overtly antagonising China with official visits, at the least one senior navy official has visited Taiwan.
Final yr the Monetary Occasions reported that Admiral Michael Studeman, then the highest intelligence officer at Indo-Pacific command, visited Taipei. His journey got here across the time Chinese and Russian strategic bombers flew a joint mission over the Sea of Japan whereas Biden was on a visit to Tokyo.
The Biden administration insists US coverage in direction of Taiwan has not modified. However the president has on 4 events mentioned the US navy would intervene if China attacked Taiwan.
His remarks appeared to shift the longstanding US coverage of “strategic ambiguity” underneath which Washington refuses to say if it will intervene in a battle. It was designed to make Taiwan much less prone to declare independence — which might nearly actually set off a Chinese language assault — whereas making Beijing assume twice about any navy motion in opposition to the nation.
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