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Biden, State Department express concern over Taiwan following PLA drills

05/26/2024 01:28 PM
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United State President Joe Biden. CNA file photo
United State President Joe Biden. CNA file photo

Washington, May 25 (CNA) United State President Joe Biden and the U.S. State Department on Saturday expressed concerns over Taiwan following the just-concluded Chinese drills around Taiwan in response to President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) inauguration speech.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) held a series of two-day joint military drills in areas surrounding Taiwan on Thursday and Friday, three days after Lai's swearing-in, after Beijing expressed dissatisfaction over his speech, which China sees as promoting Taiwan independence.

In his Saturday address at the U.S. Military Academy commencement in West Point, New York, Biden reiterated his administration's stance in upholding peace in the Taiwan Strait.

"The U.S. is standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

Biden also emphasized the critical role of U.S. support to allies around the world including Israel, Ukraine and the countries in the Indo-Pacific.

He also noted that America has been the "most powerful military in the world" for decades.

"I have always been willing to use force when required to protect ournation, our allies, our core interest. When anyone targets American troops, we will deliver justice to them," he said.

Meanwhile, a separate statement from State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller released on Saturday also reiterated Washington's concern over the latest round of Chinese military exercises near Taiwan.

"The United States is deeply concerned over the People's Liberation Army joint military drills in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan," Miller said.

"We are monitoring (People's Republic of China) activities closely and coordinating with allies and partners regarding our shared concerns," the statement said.

"We strongly urge Beijing to act with restraint," it said.

"Using a normal, routine, and democratic transition as an excuse formilitary provocations risks escalation and erodes longstanding normsthat for decades have maintained peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, which is critical for regional and global security and prosperity and a matter of international concern," it added.

Codenamed Joint Sword-2024A, the Chinese drills focused on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets.

Li Xi (李熹), spokesperson for the PLA's Eastern Theater Command, was quoted as saying in an English language report by China's state-run Xinhua News Agency on Thursday that the drills also served as a "strong punishment for the separatist acts of 'Taiwan independence' forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces." He did not elaborate.

Following Lai's inaugural address on Monday, China's government said the speech was an attempt to promote Taiwanese independence, in particular his statement that the Republic of China (ROC) -- Taiwan's official name -- and the People's Republic of China (PRC) are not subordinate to each other.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office criticized Lai's speech as containing "separatist fallacies" and as an attempt to "incite division" among the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

In response, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council reiterated that Lai emphasized in his inaugural address that when it comes to cross-strait policy, the new administration will uphold the "Four Commitments" -- an approach to cross-strait policy proposed by his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) -- and will neither yield nor provoke while maintaining the status quo.

Tsai presented the "Four Commitments" on her National Day address in 2021, namely the commitment to a free and democratic constitutional system, the commitment that the ROC and the PRC should not be subordinate to each other, the commitment to resist annexation or encroachment upon Taiwan's sovereignty, and the commitment that the future of the ROC must be decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Joseph Yeh)

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