The Pentagon has reaffirmed its long-standing support for Taiwan's self-defense after China said independence for the self-ruled island “means war.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on Friday that there was no reason that tensions between China and Taiwan "need to lead to anything like confrontation."
Kirby went on to say that, “We find that comment unfortunate and certainly not commensurate with our intentions to meet our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and to continue… to look for ways where we can cooperate with China. But we have, we have obligations that we intend to meet."
The Friday remarks by Kirby were the first by newly-elected President Joe Biden's military about China-Taiwan tensions since he took office last week.
The Chinese government sternly warned Taiwan on Thursday over its secessionist activities, saying “independence means war” and that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.
The tensions between Beijing and Taipei have been escalating in the past months, as the US increased support to Taiwan and finalized deals that included the selling of arms and advanced military equipment to the self-ruled island.
Under the “One China” policy, almost all world countries recognize China's sovereignty over Taiwan and are not allowed to have formal relations with the island.
While the United States recognizes the sovereignty, it keeps selling weapons to the island and staunchly supports its secessionist president, Tsai Ing-wen.
Beijing says US contacts with Taiwan and weapon sales to the island are a violation of China’s sovereignty.
The former Trump administration particularly stepped up military support for Taiwan and in its last days in office, it even lifted a ban on diplomatic contacts with the self-ruled island, a move that infuriated Beijing.
New US State Department spokesman Ned Price recently warned China against threatening Taiwan, after Beijing sent more than a dozen military fighter jets and bombers to conduct military drills near the self-ruled Chinese island.