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US diplomat accuses China of ‘choking’ Chinese Taipei

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
American Institute in Taiwan Director Sandra Oudkirk attends a news conference in Taipei. (Reuters file photo)

The top US diplomat in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) accused China of “destabilizing” the Asia-Pacific region and threatening “all democracies.”

Sandra Oudkirk, director of the American Institute in Taiwan which handles relations in the absence of formal diplomatic ties, claimed on Wednesday night China was making “provocative” military moves near the island.

She said managing US differences with China faces "distinct challenges,” and claimed that Beijing has undermined regional peace while vowing to “strengthen” security ties with Taipei.

"The PRC's increasingly aggressive behaviour is nowhere more evident than in relation to Taiwan, where the PRC has continued to exert military, diplomatic, and economic pressure," she said, referring to the People's Republic of China, in remarks released by her office on Thursday.

"The PRC's provocative military activities near Taiwan are destabilising, risk miscalculation, and undermine regional peace and stability," Oudkirk added, at the event also attended by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

"Continued efforts by Beijing to choke Taiwan's international space, pressure its friends, and interfere in Taiwan's democratic system represent a threat to all democracies."

China has sovereignty over Chinese Taipei, and under the "One China" policy, almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty. The US, too, recognizes Chinese sovereignty over the island but has long courted Taipei in an attempt to unnerve Beijing.

Beijing also opposes other countries pursuing ties with the self-ruled island and has consistently warned against foreign engagement with Chinese Taipei.

Back in October, US President Joe Biden said the United States would come to Taipei's aid if it were to come under attack from China, claiming it had a commitment to defend the self-ruled island. China blasted the statement, accusing Washington of meddling in Chinese internal affairs.

The United States, which backs Taiwan’s secessionist president, also continues to sell weapons to the island in defiance of Beijing and in violation of its own official policy.

The president of Chinese Taipei, Tsai Ing-wen, was elected in 2016 and has since refused to accept that Taipei is part of China.

Oudkirk said that the United States remains committed to helping Taiwan "maintain its ability to deter aggression and to defend itself".

"We have a shared and abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We consider this central to the security and stability of the broader Indo-Pacific region and are deeply concerned by ongoing PRC efforts to undermine that stability,” she added.

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