US warns China over moves on Philippines, Taiwanavril 8, 2021
WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday warned China against what the Philippines and Taiwan see as increasingly aggressive moves, reminding Beijing of Washington’s obligations to its partners.
“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 Defence Treaty,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
“We share the concerns of our Philippine allies regarding the continued reported massing of PRC maritime militia near the Whitsun Reef,” Mr Price said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
More than 200 Chinese boats were first spotted on March 7 at Whitsun Reef, around 320km west of Palawan Island in the contested South China Sea, although many have since scattered across the Spratly Islands.
China, which claims almost the entirety of the resource-rich sea, has refused weeks of appeals by the Philippines to withdraw the vessels, which Manila said unlawfully entered its exclusive economic zone.
Tensions have also risen with Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of China, with the self-governing democracy on Wednesday reporting that 15 more of China’s planes crossed into the island’s air defence zone.
Mr Price voiced concern about the Chinese moves, saying: “The United States maintains the capacity to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardise the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan.”
He was using language from the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the US is obliged to provide the island with the means to defend itself against Beijing.
Meanwhile, Beijing blamed the US yesterday for tensions over Taiwan after an American warship sailed close to the Chinese-claimed island, asking rhetorically whether China would sail in the Gulf of Mexico as a “show of strength”.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said US ships engaging in “provocations” send a seriously wrong signal to the forces of Taiwan independence, threatening peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“Would a Chinese warship go to the Gulf of Mexico to make a show of strength?” he added. – AFP, REUTERS