Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a warning to China ahead of presidential elections in nearby Taiwan. The secretary of state’s message came amid fears that the election outcome could spark a response from Beijing.
The top diplomat made the comments during a meeting with a Chinese official. The announcement came on the eve of the Taiwanese election.
A State Department spokesperson said that Blinken and his Chinese counterpart “had a constructive discussion on a range of bilateral, regional and global issues.” The spokesperson also cited “areas of potential cooperation and areas of difference.”
The State Department further said that Blinken “reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the South China Sea.”
Beijing said that the discussion revolved around efforts to “strengthen dialogue and cooperation.” However, the statement did not mention Taiwan.
China previously called candidate Lai Ching-te a “severe danger” to the country due to Lai’s support of Taiwanese independence.
China’s Defense Ministry issued a stronger statement, saying that Beijing would “smash any Taiwan independence plots.”
In a separate statement, the State Department said that Washington has “deep confidence in Taiwan’s democratic process and believe[s] it is for Taiwan voters to decide their next leader free from outside interference.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with a top Chinese foreign-policy official on Friday, as their nations work to reestablish contacts that had been severed as tensions rose in recent years https://t.co/i8ookSxrV1
— Bloomberg (@business) January 12, 2024
The secretary of state also met with the foreign minister of Japan ahead of the election.
China has previously warned that if a pro-independence candidate won, there could be consequences for the island. The People’s Republic of China claims Taiwan as one of its provinces.
During the election this weekend, the anti-Beijing candidate won.
Blinken’s words came about a week after Taiwan announced that several Chinese spy balloons were seen floating over their country. The balloons were reminiscent of the Chinese balloon that transited the United States early last year and was shot down off the coast of South Carolina.
The United States views Taiwan as a key ally. Since the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine in 2024, the United States has also sold billions of dollars of aid to Taiwan.