Already in the first days of the new US President Joe Biden’s term of office, tensions between China and the US over Taiwan and the South China Sea were growing. The Chinese Foreign Office spokesman Zhao Lijian criticized the dispatch of the US aircraft carrier “USS The odore Roosevelt” to the South China Sea as a “show of strength” threatening peace and stability in the region.
The spokesman also rejected American demands that Beijing end its military, economic and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan. Lijian underlined the Chinese position that the island was an inseparable part of the People’s Republic. Beijing was decidedly against aspirations for independence or the interference of external forces. Beijing is quite ready for dialogue – but only on the basis of its one-China doctrine.
Beijing is flexing its muscles against Taiwan
The US demand to end “intimidation” of Taiwan followed Beijing’s military muscle games. Eight Chinese bombers and four fighter planes had previously penetrated Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and tested the air defense, Taiwan’s armed forces announced on Saturday. It was the largest military action of its kind to date, and it had grown steadily over the past year.
Beijing is angry that the representative of Taiwan was officially invited to the inauguration of a president for the first time in Washington. The previous US administration of Donald Trump had already upgraded its relations with Taiwan and allowed official contacts for the first time, which Beijing resolutely rejects because it does not recognize the democratically elected government in Taipei.
Foreign office: Don’t send “the wrong signals”
The Foreign Office spokesman urged the US not to send “the wrong signals” to Taiwan’s independence forces so as not to harm relations between China and the US. Despite the threats from Beijing, the liberal Taiwan sees itself as an independent state and seeks diplomatic recognition in the world, while it is isolated from the more powerful China.
The US Navy justified the use of the “USS The odore Roosevelt” in the South China Sea with the fact that the aircraft carrier group wanted to advocate “freedom of navigation” in the sea area through which two thirds of world trade are transported.
On Monday, the Indo-Pacific Command of the US Armed Forces announced that the naval unit led by the “USS The odore Roosevelt” had arrived on Saturday as part of the exercise “Freedom of Navigation” in the sea area in the South China Sea.
Court clarified the claim in 2016
China claims a large part of the marine area between China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. The International Court of Arbitration in The Hague rejected China’s claims in 2016, which Beijing ignores.
Foreign Office spokesman Lijian urged the new US administration of US President Biden not to start a dispute. Beijing hopes that both sides can cooperate and deal with their differences – “in a spirit of non-confrontation”.