White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell on Tuesday said that the US supports a strong unofficial relationship with the island, but does not support Taiwan's independence.
Taiwan is self-governing but claimed by Beijing as a breakaway province. China has not ruled out the use of force to unite it with the Chinese mainland.
Mr Campbell was speaking at a discussion organised by the Asia Society think tank. He said that the island should not be ignored by the international community or shut out of multilateral collaboration where it can make contributions.
He also said that China should look at the US and the international response to its crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and any similar move against Taiwan would be “catastrophic,” according to Reuters.
Several countries condemned the closure of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy newspaperApple Daily last month. Calling it a “sad day for media freedom,” president Joe Biden had said that it signalled "intensifying repression" by China.
He had vowed that the US will not waver in its support of “people in Hong Kong and all those who stand up for the basic freedoms all people deserve.”
Japan’s deputy prime minister Taro Aso also warned this week that China’s invasion of Taiwan could trigger regional war. Mr Aso said that Japan needed to defend Taiwan with the US if it was invaded.
These statements come after Chinese president Xi Jinping committed to “resolving the Taiwan question” during his address at a ceremony marking the centenary of the ruling Communist Party. He said that realising “China’s complete reunification” is a historic mission and commitment of the Communist Party.
Mr Campbell also said he believed that the US and China can coexist peacefully, but it will be a difficult challenge.
He said: “Do I believe that China and the United States can coexist peacefully? Yes, I do. But I do think this challenge is going to be enormously difficult for this generation and the next.”