US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Visit to China: US Clarifies Stance on Taiwan Independence

20 June, 2023 | Bhavnish Tawar

Taiwan World

The U.S. diplomat emphasized that the U.S. does not endorse the notion of "independence" for Taiwan. However, it is notable that the U.S. remains a significant arms provider to the Taiwanese military.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the United States’ longstanding policy on Taiwan during a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Blinken stated that the U.S. does not endorse a declaration of independence by the Taiwanese government, which the People’s Republic of China views as a rebel territory. The meeting aimed to ease months of tension between the two nations; a prior visit to China by Blinken had been cancelled following the February shootdown of a U.S. spy balloon reportedly belonging to the PRC, as per U.S. intelligence.

“We do not support Taiwan independence,” Mr Blink said in public comments. “We remain opposed to any unilateral changes to the status quo by either side.”

The U.S. diplomat emphasized that the U.S. does not endorse the notion of “independence” for Taiwan. However, it is notable that the U.S. remains a significant arms provider to the Taiwanese military. President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed that the U.S. would uphold Taiwan’s defence in case of any potential Chinese aggression.

The diplomat’s statement does not reflect a shift in U.S. policy as the U.S. has traditionally maintained a strategic ambiguity approach towards Taiwan, furnishing military equipment while concurrently evading any official diplomatic communication.

On Monday, Mr. Blinken met with Chinese President Xi, during which they concurred on the need to “stabilize” the significantly deteriorated bilateral relationship between the United States and China. However, Mr. Blinken, America’s top diplomat, could not achieve his primary objective of improving communication between the two nations’ militaries and left Beijing empty-handed. Following his meeting with Mr. Xi, Mr. Blinken noted that China still needs to be willing to resume military-to-military contacts, which the U.S. perceives as critical to avoid misjudgments and potential conflict, particularly concerning Taiwan.

Still, China’s leading diplomat for the Western Hemisphere, Yang Tao, said he thought Blinken’s visit to China “marks a new During the highest-level U.S. visit to China in five years, the difficulty in military-to-military exchanges was discussed. The blame for this was placed on U.S. sanctions, which Mr. Blinken, the U.S. representative, stated were in place to safeguard American security. Despite this, Mr. Blinken and Mr. Xi were content with the progress made during the two-day talks.

However, no specific areas of agreement were pointed out, except for a mutual decision to revert to a broad agenda for competition and cooperation agreed upon by Mr. Xi and President Joe Biden last year at a summit in Bali. It remains to be seen if these understandings will solve the notable disagreements, many of which have international implications. Nevertheless, both parties expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

Mr. Blinken said later that the U.S. set limited objectives for the trip and achieved them. He told reporters before leaving for a Ukraine reconstruction conference in London that he had raised the issue of military-to-military communications “repeatedly.”

“We must have these kinds of communications,” he said. “This is something we’re going to keep working on.”

The Department of Defense of the United States has reported that China has not responded to more than a dozen high-level dialogue requests since 2021. Per the transcript of the meeting between Mr. Blinken and Mr. Xi, the latter expressed his satisfaction with the results of Mr. Blinken’s previous discussions with top Chinese diplomats and emphasized the significance of restarting the Bali agenda. Mr. Xi clearly stated China’s stance and confirmed that both sides agreed to abide by the shared understandings reached by President Biden and himself in Bali.

The prevailing agenda has been imperilled lately due to various reasons, chiefly the U.S.’s shooting down of a Chinese surveillance balloon in February in its airspace and intensified military activities in the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea. Coupled with other contentious issues relating to human rights, trade, and opiate production, the obstacle list appears formidable. However, President Xi indicated that the worst could be over.

Per the transcript of the President’s statements released by the State Department, “The two sides have also made progress and reached agreement on some specific issues,” said Mr Xi, without divulging further details. “This is very good.”

During a 35-minute session at the Great Hall of the People, Mr. Blinken delivered remarks to Mr. Xi, emphasizing the obligation and responsibility that the United States and China share in managing their relationship. Although the meeting was expected, it was not announced until an hour before it commenced. Mr. Blinken reaffirmed that the United States is committed to managing the relationship between the two nations, as it is in the interest of the United States, China, and the world. He also described his earlier discussions with senior Chinese officials as candid and constructive.

Despite the significance of Mr. Blinken’s presence in China, he and other U.S. officials did not anticipate any breakthroughs concerning the most pressing issues of the world’s two largest economies. During a recent visit to China, U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Blinken, highlighted the importance of fostering better communication channels between the two countries. Officials viewed China’s decision against resuming military-to-military contacts as a setback. Mr. Blinken acknowledged that progress towards better relations would be gradual and require more than one visit.

Mr. Blinken’s visit will likely pave the way for future high-level meetings between U.S. and Chinese officials, potentially including a gathering between Mr. Xi and Mr. Biden in India or the U.S. in the coming months. Before meeting with Mr. Xi, Mr. Blinken held a three-hour discussion with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, described as China’s foreign ministry saying, “It is necessary to choose between dialogue or confrontation, cooperation or conflict.” It blamed the “U.S. side’s erroneous perception of China, leading to incorrect policies towards China” for the current “low point” in relations.