WASHINGTON – The nominated candidate to be the best US diplomat for East Asia said on Tuesday that Washington should develop its relationship with Taiwan in every sector, hours after China’s biggest report to date in the island’s air defense zone.
Daniel Kritenbrink said it was important for Washington to demonstrate its intention to meet its ‘rock-solid obligations’ to Taiwan in the face of pressure from China, which claims the self-governing island as its own territory.
“This is … we need to further develop our strong relationship with Taiwan in every sector,” Kritenbrink said during a Senate Foreign Relations Review Committee on his appointment as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia.
Earlier, Taiwan said 28 Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear bombers, had entered its air defense zone.
The group of seven leaders issued a statement on Sunday in which they scolded China over a series of issues and underlined the importance of peace and stability across the Strait, saying that China is being called a ‘slander’.
Kritenbrink, a foreign service official who was recently ambassador to Vietnam and a former deputy head of the Chinese mission, was asked whether Washington should switch from a long-standing stance of ‘strategic ambiguity’ to making a clear commitment to defend Taiwan. in the event of a Chinese attack.
He said US ‘one-China’ policies, which formally recognize Beijing and not Taipei, have ensured stability between the strait and Taiwan’s security for many decades.
He added: ‘I do think that maintaining the status quo and security is a dynamic situation. As the threat of [China] growth, as Beijing’s aggressive and bullying behavior toward Taiwan grows, I think our response needs to be calibrated as well. ”
Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese embassy, said in a request for comment that Washington should ‘stop increasing its relations with the Taiwan region in any significant way … to seriously damage relations between China and the US and peace and to avoid stability across the Strait. ‘
Kritenbrink described China as “the biggest challenge facing the United States today” and said that new guidelines adopted by the Biden government for relations in Taiwan were “significantly liberalized” and “explicitly designed to to further develop our relationships and our partnership. ” He said Washington should continue to take steps to account for Chinese leaders responsible for what he calls genocide of Uyghurs and other Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China.
“The ongoing genocide in Xinjiang shocks the conscience,” he said. “We estimate more than 1 million Uighurs have been forcibly detained, placed in re-education camps, forced to provide labor and many other disturbing allegations about how they are being treated,” he said.
“We must continue to take action using all the tools the US government has to account for the leaders who carry out these atrocities,” Kritenbrink said.
Liu reiterated Chinese denials of abuse in Xinjiang, saying: “Facts have proven that there has never been a genocide in Xinjiang.”
In a tweet, Sophie Richardson, China’s director for Human Rights Watch, called Kritenbrink’s Xinjiang remarks a ‘strong promise’, adding: ‘Follow critically.’