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Asked about US defence of Taiwan, Antony Blinken repeats commitment to weapons sales only

October 31, 2021 GMT

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday declined to discuss how the Pentagon might respond in the event of a military attack against Taiwan by China.

In a CNN interview from Rome, where he was attending the G20 Leaders’ Summit, Blinken was asked whether the swift clarification of President Joe Biden’s remarks that Washington had a “commitment” to protect Taiwan against mainland forces meant the US “would not come to Taiwan’s defence if attacked”.

“What I can tell you is that we remain committed, resolutely committed, to our responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act, including making sure that Taiwan has the ability to defend itself from any aggression,” Blinken responded, citing the legislation that authorises US weapons sales to Taipei.

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Blinken’s response followed confirmation by Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-wen last week that American troops were training Taiwanese forces on the self-ruled island, which Beijing considers a renegade province. Tsai also said that she believed the US would help defend Taiwan against a military invasion by the mainland.

The interview took place after Blinken’s meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday in Rome, when he reportedly told his counterpart that the US has not changed its one-China policy, under which Washington officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei.

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Three joint communiques signed by Beijing and Washington in the 1970s formalised the diplomatic switch and allowed “cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations” between America and Taiwan.

US relations with Taiwan are also guided by the “six assurances” that Washington made to Taipei in 1982 to disregard Beijing’s opposition to American arms sales to the island.

While focusing on Taiwan in particular, Wang also criticised Washington’s entire China policy during the meeting, accusing the US government of “wantonly” interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs, according to a readout by China’s foreign affairs ministry.

Wang cited US sanctions that he said affect more than 900 Chinese entities and individuals, efforts to pressure other “small and medium sized countries to align with its China policy and “more than 300” pieces of legislation in the US Congress that target China, according to the ministry’s statement.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more SCMP stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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