Blinken: China’s plans to annex Taiwan moving on a ‘much faster timeline’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said China’s plans to annex the self-governed island of Taiwan that Beijing claims as its own are moving forward on a “much faster timeline” than previously expected.

“There has been a change in the approach from Beijing toward Taiwan in recent years. And instead of sticking with the status quo that was established in a positive way, [there was] a fundamental decision that the status quo was no longer acceptable and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” Blinken said in a conversation with former Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and James Mattis at Stanford University in California.

“And if peaceful means didn’t work, then [Beijing] would employ coercive means — and possibly, if coercive means don’t work, maybe forceful means — to achieve its objectives. And that is what is profoundly disrupting the status quo and creating tremendous tensions,” Blinken added.

Taiwan, which calls itself the Republic of China, has been self-governed since 1949. But the government in Beijing, called the People’s Republic of China, considers the island a part of its mainland under the “One China” policy.

The U.S. has maintained a strategically ambiguous stance in the matter — it has long maintained its acceptance of the One China policy but also holds unofficial relations with the island and is committed to helping equip Taiwan in its self-defense against Beijing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping opened the Chinese Communist Party’s national congress on Sunday with a speech that affirmed his opposition to Taiwan’s independence.

Blinken called China’s push toward reunification under Xi a concern for both the U.S. and the international community.

The balance between the two parties has been “a central component of managing the [U.S.] relationship with China for so long” and has been crucial to facilitating the significant commercial traffic that traverses the straits and impacts the global economy.

“If that were to be disrupted as a result of a crisis, countries around the world would suffer,” Blinken said.

“I hope that Beijing will come back to a place where it actually sees the merits in making sure that differences are peacefully resolved, that it doesn’t try to force things through coercion and, even worse, through force,” he said.

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