In a move that could complicate efforts to stabilize US-China relations, China sent dozens of military aircraft and naval ships towards Taiwan on Friday. This comes on the same day as a meeting between US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, where the two sides discussed ways to improve relations. According to Taiwan's Defense Ministry, China sent 33 military aircraft and six naval vessels towards Taiwan, with 13 of the planes crossing over the Taiwan Strait.
The relationship between China and Taiwan is a sensitive issue, as China considers Taiwan its territory while the US supports Taiwan's self-governing status. This issue often comes up in discussions between the US and China, including the recent meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. During the meeting between Sullivan and Wang, they also discussed reopening military-to-military communications, addressing the fentanyl crisis, and mitigating the risks of artificial intelligence.
While the US has reiterated its stance on maintaining Taiwan's sovereignty, China has made it clear that it intends to "reunify" Taiwan with the mainland. This latest military pressure from China comes during a period of higher tension, as Taiwan recently elected a new president who supports maintaining the status quo.
The US has been preparing for a range of responses from China ahead of the election in Taiwan. A senior administration official stated that contingency conversations have taken place within the US government, although specific details were not provided. The US has emphasized that it seeks competition rather than conflict with China, and there are areas of cooperation that can be pursued. However, China's military actions towards Taiwan could complicate efforts to improve relations between the two countries.
As the situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how this latest development will impact US-China relations and the delicate balance between China and Taiwan. The US will likely continue to navigate this issue carefully, emphasizing its commitment to Taiwan's security while also seeking cooperation with China on other matters such as counternarcotics efforts.