US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says he does not see an imminent invasion of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) by China but claimed that Beijing was trying to establish a “new normal” with its military activities around Taiwan.
The Pentagon chief said in an interview broadcast on CNN on Sunday, “I don’t see an imminent invasion.”
“What we do see is China moving to establish what we would call a new normal. Increased activity – we saw a number of center line crossings of the Taiwan Strait by their aircraft,” he said.
That number has increased over time. We’ve seen more activity with their surface vessels and waters in and around Taiwan,” the Pentagon chief added.
China has sovereignty over Taipei, and under the internationally-recognized One-China policy, nearly all countries recognize that sovereignty, meaning that they refrain from establishing diplomatic contact with Taipei’s secessionist government.
The US, too, sticks to that principle, but in violation of its own stated policy and in an attempt to antagonize Beijing, Washington fraternizes the secessionist government in Taipei, supports its anti-China stance, and supplies it with massive amounts of armaments.
Austin also said that Washington will continue to work with its allies and partners “to ensure that we maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
The US, Austin said, is working to reopen channels of military communication with China, something that is critical to both countries.
He said he has communicated by phone and in person with his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, who agreed that open communications were important.
“We’ll do everything we can to continue to signal that we want those channels open and I would hope that China will begin to lean forward a bit more and work with us,” he said.
China halted cooperation with Washington in a number of areas, including dialogue between senior-level military commanders, in retaliation for a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August.
The visit prompted large-scale Chinese military drills around the island territory – as well as a declaration by US President Joe Biden to defend Taiwan.