China’s approach to Taiwan “has been counterproductive,” says Blinken

Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken said on Tuesday that China’s growing aggression towards Taiwan has undermined the country’s own interests.

“I think the approach they’ve shown over the last few years has actually been completely counterproductive to their interests,” Blinken told the World Economic Forum in DavosSwitzerland on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

Taiwan is a hub for semiconductor manufacturing, which China relies on, and the neighboring Taiwan Strait is an important trade route that has implications for economic stability in the region.

Blinken’s comments come days after Taiwanese voters elected Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party to serve as the next president. Of the candidates, Lai was Beijing’s least favorite as he would likely maintain the DPP’s status quo on relations with mainland China and the US

In the weeks leading up to the election, Taiwanese officials reported several attempts by the Chinese government to influence the election through escalating military pressure and disinformation campaigns.

Despite China’s distaste for Lai, the White House stood by, issuing several congratulatory statements for the president-elect. This has further angered Beijing.

“The US State Department’s statement on the election in China’s Taiwan region seriously violates the one-China principle and the three jointly announced China-US and is contrary to the US political commitment to maintain only cultural, trade and other informal relations with the people of Taiwan,” China’s foreign ministry wrote in a statement Sunday.

“It also sends a seriously wrong message to separatist ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.” We strongly disapprove and strongly oppose this and have made serious statements to the US side,” the statement said.

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In Davos, Blinken reiterated the official US position on Taiwan and China, which simultaneously supports Taiwan’s democratic systems but does not support its independence.

The outcome of Taiwan’s election would inevitably have ripple effects on the geopolitical climate and economic landscape. The US prepared accordingly.

Days before Taiwanese voters head to the polls, the White House said it was preparing several contingency plans for a possible “period of heightened tension.”

“I don’t want to go into details about them, but of course, we have to be prepared and think about every eventuality … ranging from no response to the highest level,” a senior government official said on Wednesday.

China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, has made clear its intentions to reunite the island with the mainland, including during President Joe Biden’s one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. China has not ruled out military force to carry out this objective.

“What we’re focused on is maintaining peace and stability, and we’ve been very clear with China about that and we’ve been very clear with Taiwan about that,” Blinken said.

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