Meanwhile a state-run Chinese newspaper has warned “war may be triggered at any time” – and Taiwan’s defence minister suggesting military tensions are at their worst in four decades, fearing an invasion within five years. Taiwan has reported 148 Chinese air force planes in the southern and southwestern part of the zone which covers much of the East China Sea, over a four-day period beginning on Friday, the same day China marked a key patriotic holiday, National Day.
China’s move coincided with a joint drill by the US and its allies in the Philippine Sea, with HMS Queen Elizabeth spotted alongside two American aircraft carriers.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Biden said: “I’ve spoken with Xi about Taiwan.
“We agree we’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement. We made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement.”
Mr Biden seems to have been referring to Washington’s long-standing policy under which it officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, and the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes clear that the US decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taiwan rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.
The act binds the US to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, with Washington acknowledging China’s stance that the island belongs to it and that there is “one China”, while taking no position on Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Addressing the recent incursions, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Sunday: “The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilising, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability.”
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Separately, Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said the US had sent “wrong and irresponsible” signals by selling weapons to the island.
She insisted: “Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. The US has no right to utter [such] comments. Any attempt to seek Taiwan’s independence is doomed.”
Quizzed about the situation in the Yuan, Taiwan’s main legislature, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng described the situation as the “most serious” in more than 40 years.
He added: “For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me.
“By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest.
“It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration.”
Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese president, recently published an article in Foreign Affairs magazine in which she warned of the dangers should China try and take the island by force.
She said: “If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system.
“If its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself.
“Amid almost daily intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army, our position on cross-strait relations remains constant: Taiwan will not bend to pressure.”