US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused China of “irresponsible steps” by halting key communication channels with Washington, and said Beijing’s retaliatory actions towards Taiwan showed China had moved from prioritising peaceful resolutions to the use of force.
Blinken’s comments on Saturday came as Chinese military aircraft and warships continued to simulate an attack on Taiwan, officials in Taipei said, as part of a raft of steps taken by Beijing after a visit to the island democracy by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this week.
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China’s retaliation in stopping bilateral processes in eight key areas including defence, narcotics control, transnational crime and climate change were moves that would punish the world, not just the United States, Blinken told a news conference in Manila.
“Those include several military-to-military channels, which are vital for avoiding miscommunication and avoid crisis,” Blinken said.
“Suspending climate cooperation doesn’t punish the United States, it punishes the world, particularly the developing world. We should not hold hostage cooperation on matters of global concern because of differences between our two countries,” he said.
Tackling climate change has been a key area of cooperation between the two superpowers who are also the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions.
Blinken said the US had been hearing concern from allies about what he called China’s dangerous and destabilising actions around Taiwan in recent days, but Washington would remain steady in its handling of the situation.
The secretary of state also said he had conveyed to China’s foreign minister that the US was determined to keep communication channels open to prevent any miscalculations.
“So let me be clear, the United States doesn’t believe that it’s in the interest of Taiwan, the region, or our own national security to escalate the situation,” he said.
“We’ll keep our channels of communication with China open, with the intent of avoiding escalation due to misunderstanding or miscommunication.”
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on Saturday accused Blinken of “speaking untruthfully” about China.
“We wish to issue a warning to the United States: Do not act rashly, do not create a greater crisis,” Wang said.