US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Wednesday urged all countries to warn the People’s Republic of China (PRC) against conflict over Taiwan, adding Beijing should not use any visits by US lawmakers to the island nation as a pretext for military action.
US-China relations experienced a major blow last August during a visit by then speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to democratically governed Taiwan. Pelosi’s visit prompted China to dramatically escalate military drills around the island.
Since then a number of US lawmakers have visited Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, and Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, who took over as House speaker this January, is speculated to visit the country in the spring or summer.
The already simmering geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington took another unhealthy turn this month after the US military shot down an alleged Chinese spy balloon that flew over parts of Canada and several sensitive locations in the US.
Although after initial hesitation, Beijing acknowledged ownership of the high-altitude balloon, it has called the US’s downing of the flying object an overreaction – stressing the balloon was a “civilian airship used for research” and that it entered US airspace “completely accidentally”.
At an event at the Brookings Institution think tank, Sherman emphasised that the US will continue to support Taiwan in “maintaining a sufficient self-defence capability.”
She treated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its second year, as a lesson for China against any military conflict in the Taiwan Strait, saying the war had increased inflationary pressures, in addition to energy and food insecurity across the world.
The senior US diplomat also raised concerns over China’s “no limits” partnership with Russia, even as it was trying to boost its global standing by saying it would help mediate an end to the deadly ‘special military operation’. Beijing couldn’t have it both ways, Sherman added.