In a stern statement directed toward the United States and the Joe Biden administration over the weekend, China’s foreign minister doubled down on the country’s claim to Taiwan, even calling it an “insurmountable red line” that shouldn’t be attempted to cross.
“We urge the new U.S. administration to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue” and “completely change the previous administration’s dangerous practices of crossing the line” and “playing with fire,” he added.
The United States currently has no official relations with Taiwan’s democratically elected government—which split from the mainland in 1949—but is known to have an array of informal ties.
In recent years, former President Donald Trump angered Beijing by sending cabinet officials to visit Taiwan in a show of support. And Biden's administration has previously stated that U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid.”
Wang, however, offered no hints regarding how Beijing might react if U.S. policy continues on its current path.
The minister also took time to defend Beijing’s controversial electoral reforms in the semi-autonomous territory of Hong Kong. The reform plans are expected to ensure that Beijing loyalists are in charge of the territory’s governance, which has operated in the “one country, two systems” framework for more than two decades.
Wang added that the reforms would help contribute to long-term stability in the region and bring about a “brighter future” for the city.
“Loving Hong Kong and patriotism are exactly the same,” he said.
His comments came a week after nearly fifty pro-democracy activists were detained on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the national security law.
Wang also addressed alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
“It is hoped that the United States and China will meet each other halfway and lift the various unreasonable restrictions placed on Sino-U.S. cooperation to date as soon as possible, and not create new obstacles artificially,” he said, adding that the accusations of human rights abuses directed toward Muslim Uighurs were “absurd.”
China’s treatment of the ethnic minority group has received much international criticism over the years, and was recently ramped up when the U.S. State Department called it a “genocide” in late January.
“I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,” then U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement, adding that Chinese officials were “engaged in the forced assimilation and eventual erasure of a vulnerable ethnic and religious minority group.”
The United Nations has reported that about one million Muslim Uighurs are held in camps that Beijing claims provide vocational training and are needed to fight extremism.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.