Any move by China to invade Taiwan would have “terrible consequences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, adding that he hoped Chinese leaders would think very carefully about “not precipitating a crisis” across the Taiwan Strait.
Blinken, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, said China had been trying to change the status quo over self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory, and that the United States is “resolutely committed” to making sure the island has the means to defend itself.
“But here again, I hope that China’s leaders think very carefully about this and about not precipitating a crisis that would have, I think, terrible consequences for lots of people, and one that’s in no one’s interest, starting with China,” Blinken said.
Asked specifically if the United States could commit to send military forces in the event of an invasion, Blinken said: “We’ve been very clear and consistently clear, over many years that we are committed to making sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself and ... we will continue to make good on that commitment.”
President Joe Biden’s administration has been trying to carve out more space for Taiwan in the international system amid what it says are Beijing’s coercive military and diplomatic efforts to isolate the democratically governed island.
Biden caused a stir in October when he said the United States, which is obliged by a 1979 law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, would come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked.
China remains President Joe Biden’s number one foreign policy priority, but his administration has also been buffeted by crises elsewhere including faltering efforts to repair the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, and the spiraling conflict in Ethiopia.
Biden is expected to speak to President Vladimir Putin in the near future, and will tell the Russian leader that Washington is determined to stand up against any “reckless or aggressive” actions, Blinken said. The United States wants a more predictable relationship with Russia, he said.
There are areas where we have overlapping interests and we should be able to work together if we can have some stability and predictability in the relationship. Russia’s actions and the threat of further aggression against Ukraine moves in exactly the opposite direction,” Blinken said.