UPDATE 2 blink warns China of unilateral action regarding Taiwan
* First face-to-face meeting since the fiery exchange in Alaska
* The meeting was “extraordinarily open” – State Department officials
* Biden, Xi, are holding virtual summit this year (Adds details)
By Andrea Shalal
ROM, Oct. 31 (Reuters) – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart on Sunday that the United States is against measures by China that have increased cross-strait tensions, a senior State Department official said.
During an hour-long meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit, Blinken made it “crystal clear” that Washington opposed any unilateral change to the status quo there by Beijing, the official said.
A recent surge in Chinese military exercises in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone is part of what Taipei sees as heightened military harassment from Beijing.
China claims the island as part of its own territory and regards any foreign intervention in Taiwan as interference in its internal affairs.
The United States wants to responsibly manage the intense competition between the world’s two largest economies, the State Department official said, adding that both sides recognized that open lines of communication are paramount.
Blinken’s meeting with Wang marked the first face-to-face meeting since a violent exchange in March in Anchorage, Alaska, when US and Chinese officials sharply criticized each other’s policies in a rare public display.
Sunday’s meeting in Rome was “exceptionally open” but productive and would help lay the groundwork for a virtual summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this year, the official said.
While the United States, like most countries, has no formal relationship with Taiwan, Washington is the island’s main international donor and arms supplier and is legally required to provide it with the means to defend itself.
The United States has long had a policy of “strategic ambiguity” as to whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, although Biden said last week that it would come to Taiwan’s defense if necessary.
Blinken made it clear that Washington had not changed its “one-China” policy towards Taiwan, the official said.
The senior US diplomat, who will be attending the UN climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow next week, urged China to meet its obligations as a responsible power to limit emissions, the official said.
He also raised concerns about other Chinese actions that “undermine the international rules-based order and run counter to our values and interests,” including those related to human rights, Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, the East and South China Seas, the State Department said.
Blinken and Wang did not discuss a recent Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing’s pursuit of an orbital system designed to evade American missile defense, the official said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by John Stonestreet Editing by Alison Williams)