MANILA, Philippines – United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday the U.S. will continue to stand with Taiwan, but will also pursue the de-escalation of tension with China to ensure regional peace and order.
During a virtual joint press conference with Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, Blinken criticized China for cutting communication lines with Washington, and launching missiles around Taiwan.
China conducted military exercises around Taiwan following the visit of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the self-governing island which is being claimed by China as part of its territory.
Blinken said the U.S. will continue to back Taiwan as it believes that “a free and open Indo-Pacific demands it.”
He, however, stressed on the need to protect the Taiwan Strait as many trading ships from various countries pass through the said waters.
“Maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is vital not only for Taiwan, but for the Philippines and many other countries. What happens to the Taiwan Strait affects the entire region. In many ways, it affects the entire world because the strait, like the South China Sea, is a critical waterway,” the U.S. official said.
Blinken then vowed that the U.S. will continue to pursue talks with China to ease the tension between the two countries.
“We’ll keep our channels of communication with China open, with the intent of avoiding escalation due to misunderstanding or miscommunication. In the days to come, you will see the United States remaining steady with the Philippines, and with all our allies,” he said.
Blinken further stressed: “Let me be clear. The United States doesn’t believe that it’s in the interest of Taiwan, the region or our own national security to escalate the situation.”
Meanwhile, Manalo assured that the Philippines and the rest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) “have always been ready to see how we can help in any way to reduce the tensions.”