The United States plans to conduct new “air and maritime transits” in the Taiwan Strait in a step the White House says will reflect its response to China’s military drills in the contested strait amid rising tensions over the self-ruled island.
China conducted its largest-ever military drill around Taiwan, which Beijing considers its territory, during a trip by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month.
Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for Asia-Pacific issues and adviser to President Joe Biden, said despite tensions, US forces “will continue to fly, sail and operate where international law allows, consistent with our longstanding commitment to freedom of navigation”.
“That includes conducting standard air and maritime transits through the Taiwan Strait in the next few weeks,” he told reporters.
He said Washington is set to announce an “ambitious roadmap” for deeper economic ties with Taiwan in the wake of tensions with China over the self-governed island.
Beijing carried out its largest-ever military drills around the self-ruled island during Pelosi’s trip. It has accused the US of working against its official policy on China and Taiwan.
Taiwan has accused China of using the visit by Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected American official to visit in decades, as an excuse to start drills that Taipei called a rehearsal for invasion.
China views the island as its own territory to be seized one day, by force if necessary.
Campbell said Pelosi’s visit was “consistent” with Washington’s existing policy and that China had “overreacted”.
Beijing used the pretext to “launch an intensified pressure campaign against Taiwan to try to change the status quo, jeopardizing peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the broader region”, he said.