A new report by on Sunday has detailed a series of instances that Chinese officials have privately conveyed to their American counterparts that the Taiwan Strait does not constitute international waters, upping tensions given the Biden administration has been sailing navy warships through the contested waters on a monthly basis.
“The statement disputing the US view of international law has been delivered to the American government by Chinese officials on multiple occasions and at multiple levels, the person said,” Bloomberg writes. “The US and key allies say much of the strait constitutes international waters, and they routinely send naval vessels through the waterway as part of freedom of navigation exercises.”
The Biden administration is said to be “alarmed” by the private warnings, given that “It’s not clear whether the recent assertions indicate that China will take more steps to confront naval vessels that enter transit the Taiwan Strait,” according to the report. This also suggests China could take a more assertive stance in the South China Sea, where US warships have also been conducting freedom of navigation exercises.
On Friday during the first ever face-to-face meeting between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and China’s defense minister Wei Fenghe, the latter warned his American counterpart that Beijing will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence.
Wei had warned Austin that “if anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war “, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian quoted the minister as saying during the meeting.
Further Wei vowed that China woujld “smash to smithereens any ‘Taiwan independence’ plot and resolutely uphold the unification of the motherland,” as emphasized in a defense ministry statement issued following the conclusion of the meeting. He “stressed that Taiwan is China’s Taiwan… Using Taiwan to contain China will never prevail,” further according to the statement.
Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe vows a “fight to the very end” over Taiwan if necessary in latest salvo in war of words with United States over the island https://t.co/enCaVf4XA1 pic.twitter.com/GCEdgGbUxZ
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) June 12, 2022
For the US side, Defense Secretary Austin warned the Chinese defense minister in the Friday meeting to “refrain from further destabilizing actions” on Taiwan.
“The Secretary reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, opposition to unilateral changes to the status quo, and called on the PRC to refrain from further destabilizing actions toward Taiwan,” according to the readout.