Sun, 09 May 2021

Washington [US], April 8 (ANI): The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan, said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price on Wednesday (local time).

Taiwan's foreign minister on Wednesday said the island will defend itself "to the very last day" if attacked by China.

According to media reports, Joseph Wu noted China flew 10 warplanes into Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Monday and recently deployed an aircraft carrier battle group for exercises in waters near the island.

"Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid. We think and we know that it contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region as well. We have, of course, taken note with great concern the pattern of ongoing PRC efforts and attempts to intimidate in the region, including in the context of Taiwan," Price said during a briefing.

"In support of longstanding US policy, again, as reflected in the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan," he added.

Price said further that Washington will continue to work with allies and partners in support of "our shared prosperity, our security, and our values" in the Indo-Pacific region, and that includes with regard to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

In a move to further escalate tensions near Taiwan, China's navy has announced that its military drills near the island will become more regular.

Taiwan has been complaining of an increase in Chinese military activity near it in recent months, as China steps up efforts to assert its sovereignty over the island, reported Japan Times.

Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.

Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that "Taiwan's independence" means war.

With regard to Philipines, over the past couple of days, the Philippines have been flying their warplanes over an area known as the Whitsun Reef, which is actually in the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and there are about 200 Chinese vessels there that appear to be manned by this Chinese maritime militia.

When asked about if the Biden administration continues to stand by what had been the Trump administration's stated position, that the US will regard any attack on any Philippines territory as covered under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the spokesperson said that " an armed attack against the Philippines armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, will trigger our obligations under the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.""We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported amassing of PRC maritime militia near Whitsun Reef, and we have seen the reports that vessels have also spread to other parts of the South China Sea. We have reiterated our strong support for the Philippines and we have called on the PRC to abide by the 2016 arbitral tribunal award under the Law of the Sea Convention, which is final and legally binding on all parties," Price added.

The Whitsun Reef belongs to the Spratly archipelago. China considers the Spratly archipelago to be its territory, despite the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling, which said there was no legal basis for China's maritime claims. The arbitration proceeding was initiated by the Philippines in January 2013, Sputnik reported. (ANI)

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