US urges China to stop its 'attempts to intimidate' Taiwan
WASHINGTON: The US' commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid", the State Department said on Saturday, as it warned that China's "attempts to intimidate" the island threatened regional peace.
The comments are the first from Washington on relations with Taiwan since President Joe Biden's inauguration last week, and came on the same day Taipei reported Chinese aircraft had flown into its air defence zone.
Eight Chinese bombers and four fighter jets entered the south-western corner of Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Saturday, and Taiwan's air force deployed missiles to "monitor" the incursion, the Defence Ministry said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said it "notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC attempts to intimidate its neighbours, including Taiwan" and "urges Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan". He added Washington would continue to work on "deepening" ties with democratic Taiwan.
Yesterday, 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, entered the same area.
The US diplomatically recognises Beijing, but remains Taiwan's most important unofficial ally and military backer.
China baulks at official contacts with Taiwan and tries to keep it diplomatically isolated.
Beijing has called for a reset in US-China ties and on Thursday warned the US to "cautiously and appropriately handle Taiwan issues to prevent harm to US-China relations".
But Mr Biden is expected to remain tough on China despite a softening in the diplomatic tone. - AFP, REUTERS