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Washington announced the first trip to Taiwan in six years by a US official this week. Following the announcement, China announced its opposition to any meeting between the US and Taiwan which may harm the stability in the region and demanded diplomatic relations to cease. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Wang Wenbin said: “China firmly opposes official exchanges between the US and Taiwan.
“We urge the US to abide by the one-China principle, stop all forms of official exchanges with Taiwan and refrain from sending any wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces.”
With tensions between China and the US at a low point, Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar also aimed a veiled critique at Beijing over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and lack of transparency over the virus.
He said: “Taiwan has been a model of transparency and cooperation in global health during the Covid-19 pandemic and long before it.
“I look forward to conveying President Trump’s support for Taiwan’s global health leadership and underscoring our shared belief that free and democratic societies are the best model for protecting and promoting health.”
Mr Azar will be the highest-ranking American cabinet official since 1979 when the US recognised its government to visit the country, although no official date has yet been set.
Under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, not only does the US recognise the government of Taiwan but also confirms the US will provide the island with the necessary arms to protect itself.
Although Washington has billed the trip as a chance to strengthen health cooperation, it will also reaffirm America’s ties to the island amid a build up of arms in the East Asia Sea.
Chinese Premier, Xi Jinping has expressed a desire to bring the island under his ‘One China’ principle despite its autonomy.
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Within the principle, Taiwan is seen as part of mainland China and to be reunified with Beijing.
Amid this policy, the Taiwanese government has warned China of its increased military drills near to the island.
Chinese jets have ventured into Taiwan’s air defence system multiples times causing the latter’s Premier, Su Tseng-chang to warn of Beijing’s intent to use force to take back the island.
He said: “China is very big, and has never given up the use of force to deal with Taiwan.
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“China has always, with such a serious epidemic, sent their aircraft and ships around Taiwan, really disturbing Taiwan.”
The country’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, also warned the uptick in military presence from Beijing is in effort to prepare for the reclaiming of the island.
He added: “Looking on the long-term trend, China appears to be gradually stepping up its military preparedness, especially in air or on the waters near Taiwan.
“What China is doing now is continuing to ramp up preparedness to solve the Taiwan issue.
“The threat is on the rise.”
In order to defend its own islands, Japan has also increased its military capacity in the East China Sea to deal with China’s aggressions.
Tensions have escalated after Japan reported the longest presence of Chinese patrol ships in the region since 2012.
As well as the South China Sea, the US has declared its intent to defend these waters against Beijing.
The US has become increasingly worried at the development of what US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo called China’s naval empire.
He also declared any territorial gains made in the South China Sea as illegal.
He said: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire. America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law.”
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