U.S., EU express concern over China's 'provocations' in Taiwan Strait

12/03/2022 04:56 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Washington, Dec. 2 (CNA) The United States and the European Union have expressed concern over China's "provocations" in the Taiwan Strait, which they said increased the risk of crisis in the region, after their bilateral meetings in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

The U.S. and EU issued a joint press release on Friday, following the conclusion of the fourth high-level meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China on Thursday and the third meeting of the U.S.-EU High-Level Consultations on the Indo-Pacific on Friday.

The meetings were held between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary General Stefano Sannino.

According to the press release, the two sides "expressed concern about China's provocations that increase the risk of crisis in the [Taiwan] Strait."

The statement said China's activities "would not only undermine peace and stability across the Strait, but also have serious impacts on the broader region and jeopardize global prosperity."

Both sides underscored the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, while reaffirming their commitment to maintaining the status quo in the strait, the statement said.

The statement called for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues and reaffirmed that there is no change in their long-standing basic positions on Taiwan.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have escalated, in particular after the 19-hour visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in early August, which prompted China to launch massive military exercises in waters around Taiwan.

Since then, sorties by Chinese military planes into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) have become more frequent, and unlike in the past, the aircraft sometimes cross the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's ADIZ, a self-defined area in which the country states it has the right to identify, locate and control approaching foreign aircraft, is not part of territorial airspace as defined by international law.

The median line was previously observed by both Taipei and Beijing as an unofficial border, and crossing it is generally viewed an attempt by China to be more militarily active in areas around Taiwan.

According to the U.S.-EU statement, the two also discussed Chinese authorities' human rights violations in Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, and Hong Kong, while calling for Beijing's intervention to stop Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

At a separate meeting on Friday about their respective engagements in the Indo-Pacific region, both the U.S. and EU officials expressed their intention to further pursue their coordination and complementary work for regional maritime security, the statement said.

The statement said a joint U.S.-EU naval exercise would be planned in the first half of 2023 in the hope of building capacity in the maritime domain to support freedom of navigation and other internationally lawful uses of the sea in the Indo-Pacific.

The bilateral meetings follow a three-hour meeting between Charles Michel, president of the European Council, with China's leader Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing on Thursday.

Michel said afterwards that he conveyed to the Chinese leader the EU's commitment to maintaining its one China policy during the meeting.

In a statement issued Saturday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) thanked the U.S. and EU for their strong support for Taiwan and for drawing attention to China's provocative acts in the Taiwan Strait.

MOFA said that as a responsible member of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan would continue working with its democratic partners to contribute to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific, and to oppose the threats posed by authoritarian regimes.

(By Stacy Hsu and Teng Pei-ju)

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