The White House has expressed concern over China’s “provocative” military behavior towards Taiwan after Beijing sent 56 fighter jets into its air defense zone on Oct. 4, marking the fourth day of sustained military harassment against the self-ruled island.
Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki urged China to put an end to its goading behavior which officials say threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and could lead to all-out military confrontation.
“We remain concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing risk miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” Psaki told reporters.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan. And we have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. That’s why we’ll continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.”
“We maintain our commitments, as outlined in the Three Communiqués, Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances,” she added.
Psaki also doubled down on the U.S.’s support for Taiwan, noting that its commitment to the island was “rock solid” and “contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
The United States has had a long relationship with Taiwan and has provided it with military and other types of support since 1949 when the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China relocated there following the Chinese Civil War. While the United States and Taiwan enjoy a close unofficial relationship it is yet to create official ties with the island, due to its multiple agreements with Beijing.
“We have been clear privately and publicly about our concern about the PRC’s pressure and coercion toward Taiwan, and we will continue to watch the situation very closely,” Psaki said.
The White House’s comments come after Beijing sent 56 fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday, including 34 J-16 fighters and 12 H-6 bombers, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.
An additional four Chinese J-16s appeared in the southwestern part of Taiwan’s “Air Defense Identification Zone”—the buffer area outside the island’s airspace. Taiwan said it had scrambled jets and deployed missiles to warn off the mainland military aircraft.
Tensions have been worsening between Taiwan and China for more than a year as Beijing has drastically increased both its military and diplomatic pressure in an attempt to intimidate the self-governed island, which it sees as its territory that must be taken under its control.
The regime’s air force has made over 500 military incursions over the nine months this year, compared to 380 in 2020, according to Taiwanese authorities.
The latest “provocative” displays began on Oct. 1, which marks the 72nd anniversary of the regime’s founding. Since then, 149 Chinese warplanes have flown over the territory and have included both daytime and nighttime incursions with fighter jets, bombers, and anti-submarine aircraft.
The Australian government also weighed in on Monday on the Chinese incursions, declaring that it wanted “an Indo-Pacific region that is secure, prosperous and based on the rule of law”.
“Australia is concerned by China’s increased air incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone over the past week,” an Australian foreign affairs spokesperson told The Guardian.
“Resolution of differences over Taiwan and other regional issues must be achieved peacefully through dialogue and without the threat or use of force or coercion,” the spokesperson said.
Faced with mounting criticism, Beijing on Monday placed blame on Washington, accusing it of being “irresponsible” with its public comments and warning that its arms sales to Taiwan and U.S. warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait would affect bilateral relations.
Eva Fu contributed to this report.