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US asks China to choose 'diplomacy' after Beijing sent warships near Taiwan

A group of naval vessels from China and Russia sails during joint military drills in the Sea of Japan, in this still image taken from a video released on October 18, 2021. (Reuters photo)

The United States called on China to choose diplomacy over military pressure against Chinese Taipei. The call came after Beijing deployed warships following a meeting by the self-ruled island's leader with the US House speaker.

"We continue to urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful diplomacy," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters on Thursday, AFP reported.

"We remain committed to maintaining open channels of communication so as to prevent the risk of any kind of miscalculation," Patel said.

China sent warships through waters around Taiwan in a "resolute response" to the recent meeting of the island's president and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

Taipei's President Tsai Ing-wen met with McCarthy in Los Angeles on Wednesday, despite China's stern warnings to both sides that the meeting should not take place.

China has sovereignty over Taipei. The US recognizes that sovereignty but regularly violates its own stated policy. The island has become a major bone of contention between Beijing and Washington.

Speaking in Washington on Thursday, the State Department spokesman acknowledged "differences" between the United States and China over Taiwan but said that the two powers have managed the situation for 40 years.

The United States characterized Tsai's visit as a "transit" on her way to and from Latin America.

"There is no reason to turn this transit, which is consistent with longstanding US policy, into something that it's not or to use it as a pretext to overreact," Patel said.

A visit by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei also drew a similar response from China last year, when Beijing carried out the largest-ever air and sea exercises around the island.

The Chinese Ministry of Defense issued a warning ahead of the newer meeting, saying that Beijing "maintains high vigilance at all times, resolutely defending national sovereignty and territorial integrity." The ministry said it opposed "the leader of the Taiwan region slinking to the United States under any name or for any excuse."

China has sovereignty over Taiwan. The US does not recognize Taiwan as a country and officially supports the "One China" policy, but regularly oversteps its own principles. The island has become China's most sensitive territorial issue and a major bone of contention with Washington.

Washington continues to antagonize Beijing by siding with Taipei's secessionist administration, engaging in frequent military missions around the island, and serving as its largest weapons supplier. 




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