China Decries 'Interference' as Antony Blinken Signals U.S. Action Over Taiwan

Beijing offered a lengthy retort on Thursday after comments by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who reaffirmed U.S. commitments to Taiwan's security and warned of a potential collective response if China were to use force against the island.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China would "never allow" American interference in Taiwan, which it claims is part of its territory and therefore an "internal affair." The U.S., which has unofficial but strong relations with Taipei, doesn't take a position on sovereignty over the island and considers its status undetermined.

At a virtual forum hosted by the New York Times on Wednesday, Secretary Blinken said the U.S. stands strongly against anyone taking unilateral action to disrupt by force the "status quo" across the Taiwan Strait. The delicate balance has seen the now democratic island effectively govern itself for more than seven decades, with Beijing exercising no jurisdiction over it.

Blinken repeated longstanding commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the 1979 legislation—supported by then Senator Joe Biden—that says the U.S. must assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability in order to resist China.

He said the TRA was part of the U.S.'s own "one China" policy—distinct from Beijing's "one China" principle, under which it claims Taiwan—and that America's role was to make sure the island "has the means to defend itself."

The U.S. and its allies would "take action" if China were to attack Taiwan, he added, without elaborating.

Wang said Blinken's remarks showed "a disregard for facts," taking particular issue with the TRA, which he described as an American "domestic law" that the U.S. had "placed above international obligations." The spokesperson appeared to be referring to the U.S.-China Three Communiques, which Washington considers non-binding statements of policy intention.

In a repeat of the same language used by another Chinese official on Wednesday, Wang called the TRA "illegal and invalid."

The first of the Three Communiques—issued in 1972, 1979 and 1982—included U.S. acknowledgment but not recognition of China's position on Taiwan. The second established formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, while the third declared the U.S.'s intention to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan—if China committed to a peaceful resolution to cross-strait differences.

In 1982, the Reagan administration complemented the third communique by giving Taiwan the Six Assurances, which said, among other things, that the U.S. had not agreed to set a date for the end of arms sales, had not altered its position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan and would not pressure Taiwan into negotiations with China.

The Biden administration has reaffirmed that the U.S. "one China" policy is guided by the TRA, the Three Communiques and the Six Assurances. The Chinese government, meanwhile, recognizes only one these three elements.

China Decries Antony Blinken's Taiwan Comments
A file photo of Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images