In a recent meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken engaged in discussions with Liu Jianchao, the head of the international division of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee.
Blinken, currently navigating a diplomatic agenda that includes the Middle East and the World Economic Forum in Davos, emphasized the importance of cross-strait stability during the talks, which took place just hours before Taiwan’s presidential election.
The two leaders conducted a constructive dialogue covering various topics, including both areas of potential cooperation and points of divergence. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller stated, “The Secretary reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea.”
With Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy claimed by Beijing, heading to the polls, tensions have risen. Beijing has expressed concern over the front-runner, Lai Ching-te, labeling him a “severe danger” due to past statements favoring outright independence.
However, Lai has maintained a cautious stance during the campaign, and US officials privately note that Chinese statements align with typical discourse surrounding Taiwan elections.
Despite officially recognizing Beijing, the United States supports Taiwan’s defense by providing weapons, as China has not ruled out the use of force for reunification.
State Department spokesman Vedant Patel emphasized the US’s confidence in Taiwan’s democratic process and the belief that the election outcome should be free from external interference.
Following the election, President Joe Biden’s administration plans to send an “unofficial” delegation to Taiwan, a move described as routine and announced in advance. This gesture reaffirms the strong support for Taiwan in the US Congress, demonstrated by a recent unanimous resolution commending Taiwan’s self-governance example.
In addition to the discussions with Liu, Secretary Blinken met separately with Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, reinforcing ties with a close US ally. Liu’s visit comes amid escalating US-China dialogue aimed at easing tensions between the two nations. Notably, President Biden and President Xi Jinping agreed in November to restore military dialogue to prevent potential mishaps.
In a recent speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Liu maintained a conciliatory tone and refrained from strong criticism of the United States. While he did not specify China’s response to Taiwan’s elections, he acknowledged US statements disapproving of Taiwanese independence.
Liu also held talks with Jon Finer, the deputy national security advisor, at the White House earlier in the week, further underscoring the ongoing diplomatic engagement between the two countries.