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US support for Taiwan is "rock solid" after China sends fighter jets

US support for Taiwan is "rock solid" after China sends fighter jets

The United States reaffirmed its support for Taiwan after eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the island's air defense identification zone.

The US State Department said on Saturday it "notes with concern the pattern of [China's] continued attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan."

"We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with the democratically elected representatives of Taiwan," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Washington will continue to deepen ties with Taiwan and ensure its defense of Chinese threats while supporting a peaceful resolution of problems between the parties, the statement said.

"Our commitment to Taiwan is solid as a rock and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability throughout the Taiwan Strait and within the region," he added.

There was no immediate response from China.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said China sent eight bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets into airspace just southwest of the island, as part of a long-standing pattern of Chinese incursions aimed at putting pressure on the Chinese government. President Tsai Ing-wen to collapse. to Beijing's demand that it recognize Taiwan as part of the Chinese territory.

The latest Chinese flyby came in the immediate aftermath of President Joe Biden's inauguration, emphasizing the island's enduring position in the panoply of divisive issues between the parties that also include human rights, trade disputes and, more recently, questions about the China's initial response to the coronavirus pandemic. .

The Biden administration has shown little sign of easing pressure on China on these issues, although it is seen as favoring a return to a more civil dialogue.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry expressed appreciation for the U.S. show of support on Sunday, adding that it would work closely with the Biden administration to strengthen their partnership.

Lo Chih-cheng, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party who sits on the parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, also told the Reuters news agency that China was trying to dissuade the new US government from backing the island.

"You are sending a message to the Biden administration," he said.

Taiwan and China parted ways amid civil war in 1949 and China says it is determined to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.

The United States changed diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but is legally bound to ensure that Taiwan can defend itself and that the autonomous democratic island enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington.

Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, also reaffirmed the United States' commitment to Taiwan after the island's de facto ambassador to Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, attended Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.

In a final blow to China, the Trump administration's outgoing UN ambassador to the UN tweeted that it was time for the world to oppose China's efforts to exclude and isolate Taiwan, drawing strong criticism from Beijing.

Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the UN General Assembly Hall, where the island is banned.

She carried a tote bag with a Taiwanese teddy bear sticking out of the top, a gift from Taiwan's representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.

Tsai has sought to bolster the island's defenses by purchasing billions of dollars in American weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighters, armed drones, rocket systems, and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting ships and land targets.

She has also pushed support for Taiwan's indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China's growing naval capabilities.

China's increased threats come as economic and political temptations bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and send fighter jets and reconnaissance planes almost daily to the island of 24 million people, which It is located 160 km (100 miles) off the southeast coast of China. across the Taiwan Strait.

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